January 28, 2014 10:38:19 AM
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership honored Dan Camp, the former Starkville mayor who single-handedly transformed Starkville's most well-known neighborhoods into a widely praised New Urbanism development area, and other local business leaders for their service to community development on Monday.
Camp won the 2013 Downtown Revitalization Award for his work in the Cotton District, a neighborhood comprising nearly one-third of Starkville's extended Downtown District.
Other award winners included: Cadence Bank, the R. Clay Simmons Exemplary Enterprise Award; Paige Lawes, the T.E. Veitch Community Service Award; Ty Adair, the Education Hall of Fame distinction; Jeff Donald and Richard Green, the Service to the Military Community Award; the Mississippi State University baseball team, the Crystal Pineapple Tourism Award; Southwire, the Industry of the Year Award; and Melanie Mitchell, the Ambassador of the Year Award.
Camp, a Baton Rouge, La., native, first came to Starkville as a student and graduated from MSU in 1962. After a five-year sabbatical, he returned as an assistant professor and went into the development business two years later.
The neighborhood provided housing for workers of the former cotton mill on Russell Street. When the mill closed in the 1950s, property values plummeted and conditions within the neighborhood deteriorated.
Camp saw potential in the low-priced land less than a mile away from campus.
He built his first apartment building -- a two-story, wood-clapboard structure with eight units -- there in 1969 after purchasing land with money earned from the stock market. Drawing upon styles of the historic South, he began turning the Cotton District from a significantly blighted area into one of the models of New Urbanism, one property at a time.
"The Cotton District is arguably the most-recognizable place by visitors in all of Starkville and has provided an atmosphere and gathering place unlike any other," said GSDP CEO Jennifer Gregory. "Camp's vision and execution have revitalized and even transformed this downtown area, with no promise to stop any time soon."
Diamond Dawgs' run recognized for tourism impact
MSU baseball coach John Cohen and his 2013 squad received the Starkville Conventions and Visitors' Bureau's tourism award for last season's impact on local businesses.
Last year, Cohen led the Bulldogs to their first-ever College World Series championship series, earning 51 wins along the way. MSU's historic run brought in droves of fans to Starkville.
"Not only did crowds return to Dudy Noble, but they brought even more with them as an all-time record of 547,266 fans streamed through the gates to watch the Bulldogs play in 2013, including an NCAA regional that saw near-record attendance," Gregory said. "The spotlight was on Mississippi State and Starkville, and substantial economic impact, notoriety and publicity were icing on the cake for what is known as the best season in any sport at Mississippi State."
Ambassadors' founder adds another honor to growing list of achievements
Mitchell, the 2006 Golden Triangle and Mississippi Realtor of the Year award winner, is no stranger to distinction.
The Partnership awarded her as Ambassador of the Year, recognizing her service to a group she helped found after arriving back in Starkville about 12 years ago. Borrowing from a similar program in the Delta, she and other officials established the initiative the outreach program that helps serve as a business liaison between entrepreneurs and the Partnership. Mitchell served as the Ambassadors' first vice president.
She was previously voted Starkville's best realtor in 2003 and the city's Woman of the Year in 2004.
Southwire is Starkville's industry of the year
Although Southwire was named Starkville's Industry of the Year, the company has shown steady growth over the last seven years, increasing employment numbers from 260 to 330 and establishing itself as one of North America's largest wire and cable producers.
The Starkville plant produces more than 100 million pounds of industrial power cable products, which are in turn used in power plants, industrial facilities, refineries, hospitals and schools.
In addition, the company's community outreach efforts target numerous philanthropies, with volunteers serving on the Salvation Army and American Cancer Society's Relay for Life boards, mentoring middle and high school students, adopting needy families for Christmas and helping provide storm relief to residents. Southwire was the top fundraiser for 2013's Relay for Life and, through its Back-to-School Giveaway, distributed more than 750 bags of school supplies to area children.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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