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LINK, researcher working on 'road map' for counties


East Mississippi Community College President Rick Young speaks with LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins following the LINK’s quarterly luncheon on Wednesday.

East Mississippi Community College President Rick Young speaks with LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins following the LINK’s quarterly luncheon on Wednesday.
Photo by: Nathan Gregory/Dispatch Staff



Nathan Gregory



Area leaders and Golden Triangle Development LINK officials are working with an economic researcher on five-year plans for development for each of the three counties that comprise the LINK. 


Joe Max Higgins, speaking during the LINK's quarterly luncheon Wednesday, said the long-term goals will soon be finalized in writing. The LINK has contracted with William Fruth, POLICOM Corporation President, for $50,000 on a study that will be the blueprint for industrial growth in Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Clay counties, Higgins said.  


POLICOM, which Fruth founded in 1995, is a private economic research firm that specializes in studying the dynamics of local economies. It publishes an annual report ranking the economic strength of metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas across the country. 


Fruth's study also includes East Mississippi Community College , Mississippi University for Women and Mississippi State University and their effectiveness in fostering workforce development, Higgins said.  


"What we hope to have is a plan that leads all three counties into their niche, what they do and what they should do, and then also with some of what we call our critical partners, the community college and the university, making sure everybody knows their role," Higgins said.  


He reported that Fruth said the Golden Triangle has the potential to be "the most dynamic region of micropolitans in the country." 


"We need to put every effort and every resource at our disposal to make that happen," Higgins said. "Each county is going to have different things to do. We're going to take those recommendations and we're going to fold those into some five-year plans for the city, for the county and what they need to do for economic development. He's not got anything in the report and recommendations that is not doable. He's not asking us to do anything we can't do, and if we do it I think we can see some exponential results." 




Potential projects 


The LINK CEO said four projects are currently eying Lowndes County, particularly property west of the Golden Triangle Regional Airport recently purchased by the LINK through Rural Development Authority Loans executed by the county.  


"We've got some projects that are ready to go quicker than the other ones are. We're trying to coordinate all that," Higgins said. "Four companies that I think are going to be calling west of the airport home: A spec(ulative) building, two distribution facilities and a manufacturing facility." 


Higgins also mentioned the possible future success that could be coming to West Point as a result of Yokohama Tire Company's decision to locate a large manufacturing plant in the area. National Realtors have been listing vacant buildings in West Point and tenants are showing interest in the buildings, he said. There is also a developer exploring the possibility of a 100-to-200-unit apartment complex. 


Also, Higgins said LINK CAO Joey Deason is working on a land purchase in Oktibbeha County that could be finalized this summer and would set the area up to compete for industry "on a world-class level." 


"Our goal is to have products in all three counties to sell to all three counties' strengths," he said.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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