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By PAUL SIMS
Community leaders continue to take steps toward addressing what a professional panel recommended recently as ways to move the cityâ€™s core forward.
Several officials met Friday to go over ways to move ahead with the implementation strategies laid out from the recent charrette, or comprehensive review, which focused on a number of areas, including design, retail, marketing and other key topics.
â€śThe city will take the lead on the planning and policy side,â€ť said Ward 5 Alderman and Jeremiah Dumas, who also serves as the chair of the communityâ€™s Convention and Visitors Bureau board. He noted city officials took â€śthat first big stepâ€ť last week in selecting Placemakers LLC as the consultant who will develop form-based codes for the city.
Form-based codes will permit developers to follow specific rules spelled out under the codes. Advocates have said the effort will streamline the administrative process for development and act as an overlay on top of existing codes in the designated areas, ultimately with the goal of higher-quality developments.
Then the next step will be to pull together a group of marketing and branding professionals to â€śhelp us really take the path forwardâ€ť in those arenas, Dumas said.
During the close of the charrette, those reviewing the community said they found Starkville â€śleakingâ€ť $60 million in retail and listed key areas as clothing, shoes, jewelry, gifts and such items as toys, hobbies and games.
Officials have known a retail gap existed in the community, Maynard said. â€śThe reality is consultants have access to those numbers. The focus now is to develop a brand with the new Census numbers and demographics to commit people to shop at home. At the same time, new retailers will come online,â€ť he said.
The current goal is to look at what retailers are out there who can fill the niches, pursue them and market Starkville, Maynard said.
â€śWe want to make sure the goods and services people want and need are available locally so they wonâ€™t have to leave Oktibbeha County,â€ť he said.
Those conducting the charrette performed a ZIP Code survey as part of their research.
Maynard says officials would like to see an expansion of the survey to get a more refined study.
Dumas and Maynard indicated the Starkville Main Street Association will take the lead on action related to the charrette.
â€śNobody works alone. Itâ€™s going to take buy-in, input and true collaborative effort,â€ť Maynard said.