Higgins: Link making progress on several fronts

December 20, 2012 11:13:30 AM

Carmen K. Sisson - csisson@cdispatch.com

 

There was little in the way of new information presented at the annual Link luncheon Wednesday at East Mississippi Community College, but the event provided yet another opportunity for organizers to tout the benefits of regional partnership and global thinking, specifically through the newly-formed Golden Triangle Development Link.  

 

Things are on schedule, and in some cases, moving along more quickly than expected, Link CEO Joe Higgins said.  

 

Oktibbeha County, Starkville and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership have now officially joined the coalition with Lowndes and Clay counties, and the search is underway for an economic development recruiter who can sell the assets of their community. Candidates are expected to interview in the last week of December, with the position filled some time in January.  

 

Things are going well in Clay County, too, Higgins said.  

 

At the end of October, the group unveiled the Prairie Belt Powersite in West Point, and three companies have already expressed interest in locating to what Higgins called "a very special site" due to its massive quantities of available power and its easy access to multi-modal transportation. 

 

"If there's any luck in the world, something good's going to happen on that site," he said.  

 

A large project may also be in the works for Lowndes, with a major industry requesting a proposal delivered by Dec. 26. 

 

"I guess y'all know what I'll be doing over the holidays," Higgins quipped.  

 

But equally important to the group's success will be an understanding of not only where they are, but where they are headed.  

 

Technology will be the currency of the future, and a wealth of opportunities remain untapped in the automotive assembly sector, said guest speaker Dr. Mac Portera, a former Mississippi State University president who is working closely with GTDL.  

 

While automobiles are currently 70 percent mechanical and 30 percent technology-based, he expects those numbers to be reversed within five years. The aerospace industry is also an area ripe for growth.  

 

He believes the key to it all is thinking globally and utilizing assets like MSU, Mississippi University for Women and Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. 

 

"There's a world out there, and you need to go get some of it," Portera said.

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.