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Clay County on track despite regional contract delay

October 20, 2012

The Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority has hit its first bump in the road, but Clay County’s economic development team will not be affected by a delay created at this week’s Starkville City Council meeting.
“Everything in Clay County is on track,” said Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the Columbus-Lowndes Development LINK. Clay County has been in contract with the LINK since the Spring, and Higgins’ team has been working to bring industry into Clay County since then.
This week the Starkville City Council tabled the contract that would add the city to a partnership involving Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties.
On September 14, Higgins unveiled a plan developed by a steering committee that included Clay County’s Robbie Robinson and Jackie Edwards. The plan called for the three communities in the Golden Triangle to unite, under contract, to form an economic partnership in hopes of drawing industry to the region rather than individual cities or counties.
Starkville Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk raised concerns about what benefits the economic development partnership would have for Oktibbeha County and Starkville.
Her main concern was that Starkville and Oktibbeha County lack some of the resources that Clay and Lowndes currently enjoy, which she fears may lead to lopsided benefits in within the partnership.
Higgins had hoped the contracts would be signed this month, and he says that he is still optimistic special meetings will be called by the county and city boards to sign the contracts before November.
If Starkville and Oktibbeha do sign on, there will be a nationwide search for an economic developer for those communities. Ron Maloney serves as the economic developer for Clay County, and it has been business as usual for Maloney over the last week.
He and the rest of the his team are prepared to unveil a MegaSite here in Clay County that is assured to get some looks from major industries around the country and world.
“The new MegaSite will be unveiled to the public later this month and we are working closely with the steering committee to get the regional group on track for the contracts being signed as soon as possible,” Higgins said in an email on Friday.
The unveiling of the MegaSite is set for October 31. It will be a public event at the Civic.

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