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By PAUL SIMS
A key figure in Mississippiâ€™s economic development efforts will be the featured speaker at the Greater Starkville Development Partnershipâ€™s annual banquet next week.
Gray Swoope is the executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, the stateâ€™s lead agency in the field.
Swoope is a Clay County native who holds a bachelorâ€™s and a masterâ€™s degree in business administration from Mississippi State University, according to his biography on the MDA website.
He once worked in Starkville in the early part of his career.
â€śHeâ€™s a good choice to speak. He knows the Golden Triangle, specifically Starkville,â€ť said Jon Maynard, GSDP president and CEO. â€śGray has a strong team approach to economic development for the state of Mississippi.â€ť
Maynard says Swoope will focus his comments on the idea of â€ścoopertition,â€ť a message which â€śrings well with the Partnershipâ€™s team approach to community development.â€ť
Swoope leads close to 300 employees in his role at the MDA.
The banquet, which will take place in the Foster Ballroom at Colvard Student Union on the MSU campus at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20, will mark the GDSPâ€™s 10th anniversary.
The eventâ€™s theme is â€ś10 years as a T.E.A.M.,â€ť with the acronym standing for â€śTogether Everyone Achieves More.â€ť
The GSDP is made up of the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Starkville Chamber of Commerce and the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority.
The following awards will be presented at the banquet: R. Clay Simmons Exemplary Enterprise, T.E. Veitch Community Service, Service to the Military, the Crystal Pineapple Tourism and Ambassador of the Year.
There will also be three inductees into the Starkville Area Education Hall of Fame, said Allison Matthews, the GSDPâ€™s vice president of membership and community development.
Tickets are $35 per person or $350 per table of 10.
GSDP staff members urge people to RSVP for the banquet by Friday.
To RSVP, call Allison Matthews at 323-3322 or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.