April 2, 2010 12:41:00 PM
To ensure ongoing community and economic development success and completion of the Golden Triangle Industrial Aerospace Park, Columbus-Lowndes Development Link officials extended the term of Link CEO Joe Higgins'' contract.
Higgins, whose existing contract expires May 31, 2012, has agreed to a new five-year contract beyond 2012, with a maximum compensation of $210,000, as stipulated in his current contract, to remain unchanged.
Bonus opportunities are available, based on production, for Higgins; the new contract is subject to the right of the Link to cancel, with notice.
"We are very fortunate to have someone of Joe''s ability working for the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link," said Allegra Brigham, chairman of the Link''s board of directors. "His talent, knowledge, skills and proven track record make him an extraordinarily valuable asset. Since arriving in Columbus seven years ago, we have landed Severstal, Aurora Flight Sciences, Stark Aviation, Talley Defense Systems, Paccar Inc. and expanded American Eurocopter and Baldor Electric.
"He''s a world class economic developer and has achieved world class results for our organization and its partners," she added.
The Link board of directors, comprised of elected officials and business leaders, unanimously approved Higgins'' contract extension.
"As community leaders, we''ve invested a great deal of time, energy and resources in the development of three megasites, including the Aerospace Park," said Brigham. "We want to see them develop to their full potential. No one has, or ever will, possess the commitment Joe has for the development of these sites.
"Furthermore, he gave birth to the aerospace park concept and is passionate about its success," she continued. "He knows how to merge local preparations -- master planned mega sites and infrastructure -- with good opportunities (or projects) to create success for all."
Under Higgins'' helm, the Link has brought about $3.5 billion in investments to Lowndes County and more than 3,500 jobs and the organization is courting more projects.
"Currently, there are 16 active projects looking at our county, making the Link about as busy as it has ever been," Brigham noted. "These 16 projects represent more than $400 million in investments and about 3,000 jobs. Communities our size don''t attract that many projects in a really good year, let alone in a three-month period during an economic downturn.
"Projects are looking here because we are prepared for success, with sites that are shovel-ready," she continued. "We are prepared because we have a developer who knows what it takes to be successful, how to attract prospects, how to negotiate a win-win proposition and how to close a deal."
Higgins also provides direction and oversight for a successful chamber of commerce, Brigham noted, adding the Link maintained a 93 percent membership retention rate in 2009.
"I had in my mind (my family and I) were going to be here until 2012," said Higgins, a graduate of Arkansas State University, who is nationally certified as a planner, community and economic developer and environmental consultant. "When I was first approached (about extending my contract), I had mixed emotions about it. I started thinking about it. I had always thought I would go back to Arkansas, where I''m from. But it suddenly dawned on me, I''ve established deeper contacts here than I had thought. This will put me in Columbus and Lowndes County longer than I have ever been at one job, in my life. If they''re happy with me and they continue to have the faith in me I can do what I do, this will probably be the last stop I have."
"If people have got any kind of memory at all, they remember what Columbus and Lowndes County was like before Joe Higgins got here," said Lowndes County Board President and District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders. "He''s just a ball of fire and put a spark under everybody. We''re moving forward when before we were stagnant."
David commented at 4/2/2010 2:16:00 PM:
A no-brainer no doubt, Columbus/Lowndes County future has never been brighter. Amazing the potential being realized, with expansion of the Industrial Park, the Hwy. 45 bypass and the continued development of downtown. The new downtown park will naturally tie-in with the River Walk and new development on the island.
chill commented at 4/2/2010 3:01:00 PM:
A homerun for all of us in the area! Thanks Joe.
J B BLACK commented at 4/2/2010 6:05:00 PM:
I AGREE WITH DAVID. A 'NO BRAINER'. PERIOD. It's takes a specisl kind of person with THICK SKIN to look pass the CRAP and DUMB, STUPID, antics that have happened in the county with the PERSON (LB) he has had to deal with.WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT THE'MIDUS TOUCH' they are talking about ''GOLD TOUNG JOE HIGGINS' HANDS DOWN.
jeff commented at 4/3/2010 8:56:00 AM:
he's worth every penny !
TD commented at 4/3/2010 10:31:00 PM:
Actually I disagree with you Jeff. Columbus got a real bargain. He's worth a lot more than every penny.
Thank you Joe for all you've done, and an "in-advance" thank you for all you'll do in the next five years.
1. Two local nonprofits get Dutch Oil grants COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Industrial park legal challenge will delay project STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY