Board selections complete first stage in new Link

November 29, 2012 10:07:40 AM



It's official. 


The former Columbus-Lowndes Development Link is now the Golden Triangle Development Link after Wednesday's board vote approving the new board members for the organization. 


Accompanying the new name is a revised set of bylaws that include the addition of seats to the board of directors and executive board, as well as the approval of a $1.64 million operating budget. 


As expected, Cadence Bank vice president Mark Abernathy, Greater Starkville Development Partnership board president Steve Langston and Coldwell Banker real estate broker Michelle Amos were announced as the final three members from Oktibbeha County to be selected to the new board of directors. The three join Zelma Talley, who was appointed by the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors earlier this month. 


After recognizing the new board members, Link CEO Joe Max Higgins announced that Langston and Amos would represent the county on the Link's executive board. 


Higgins said the process to hire an economic developer for Oktibbeha County began as soon as the agreement with the county was signed in October. With Wednesday's vote, Higgins said the process will move more quickly. 


He said Jorgenson Consulting is recruiting candidates. The firm has offices throughout the United States. 


"They were here the week before Thanksgiving and met with several city and county officials," Higgins said. "The advertisement has been directed to a host of economic developers around the country who have been identified as possible candidates." 


Higgins said the search for the economic developer for West Point and Clay County drew 80 applications. Five finalists emerged with Ron Maloney being chosen for the post earlier this year. 


"And I could have hired any of the five," Higgins said. "Our choice is exactly who we wanted, but if we would have hired the second or third choice, they would have done well, too." 


Higgins said anyone qualified and wishing to apply may send their resume to [email protected], and it will be forwarded directly to Jorgenson. 


The next step for the budding organization is to collect vital information about Oktibbeha County and Starkville. Higgins said that electronic databases are being built that include information on flood plains, demographics, potential development sites, etc.  


There will also need to be a consultation with local engineers and utility managers to determine water, sewage and electric capacities, he said.  


"We have to figure out what our assets are, how to exploit them, where we think we have some issues and how we are going to approach them," he said. "There is virtually nothing you can come in and ask us about Lowndes County (that we don't know). Demographics, maps charts, we've got it. But we are not nearly there with West Point and we certainly aren't nearly there with Starkville."