By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors discussed plans to celebrate Starkville‚Äôs 175th anniversary as part of its summer event promotion campaign at its meeting Wednesday.
While the final report was unavailable, the CVB also discussed some results from its Twitter town hall event Feb. 27. The commission also briefly discussed the need for a capital strategy for the city‚Äôs planned redevelopment authority.
Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership vice president for tourism development, said Three Generations owner Paige Lawes has assembled a steering committee to celebrate the May 11 anniversary of 175 years since the city was chartered.
‚ÄúOur role is to plan and promote the birthday party, which will be on ... May 11 of this year either in our welcome center downstairs. Ideally, I‚Äôd like to have it at the community market location, but I haven‚Äôt asked about that yet, so that‚Äôs not official,‚ÄĚ Gregory said. ‚ÄúOne of the community members, Amanda Edwards, is looking (into) a potential proclamation the mayor would issue, proclaiming this full year as the 175th anniversary of Starkville beginning May 11, 2012.‚ÄĚ
Gregory said the party would function as a community day with old-fashioned games for children and a birthday cake. The CVB is also planning a parade to coincide with its Downtown Block Party in the fall, which has been moved from Main Street to the corner of Russell Street and Lampkin Street, she said. May 11 is also the day of Mississippi State University‚Äôs graduation, and Gregory said holding the parade in September will create an anniversary celebration MSU students at all levels will be able to attend.
‚ÄúThe idea is to have the parade prior to (the Downtown Block Party) and have the reverse route of the Christmas parade, so (it will) start at (First United) Methodist Church and come back in at Russell Street,‚ÄĚ Gregory said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll probably announce all the details of that ... after the Cotton District Arts Festival so people don‚Äôt get too confused, so just be looking for that. Paige‚Äôs idea is throughout that year people will incorporate the 175th year into any of their existing events.‚ÄĚ
Gregory said the CVB is also developing its Dog Days of Summer event promotion campaign, which will include the 175th anniversary birthday party. She said she hopes to release the campaign schedule after Super Bulldog Weekend.
‚ÄúThe whole point is to try to change that perception ‚ÄėThere‚Äôs nothing to do in Starkville in the summer; Starkville‚Äôs dead in the summer,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Gregory said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really not. There really are a lot of events going on in the summer.‚ÄĚ
Gregory said CVB staff are currently going through a transcript of the Twitter town hall more than 300 pages long tweet-by-tweet to determine the main topics. The current plan is to release final reports by next week, she said, giving city officials and others a look at the event one month after the fact. The Twitter town hall on Feb. 27 was an opportunity for citizens, students and others connected to Starkville to give the CVB feedback on Starkville‚Äôs economic development.
Finally, CVB Chair Jeremiah Dumas briefed the CVB board about the city‚Äôs plans for a redevelopment authority. A steering committee which includes Gregory and other community representatives will name the authority‚Äôs members, draw its jurisdiction and create its bylaws.
‚ÄúIt has statutory requirements that will allow it to capitalize itself whether it be with cash or land or other types of things in areas that we see are really (in need of redevelopment),‚ÄĚ Dumas said. ‚Äú(Highway) 182 is a logical one. Russell Street (and) Lampkin Street ... are (other) areas we really want to try to work on.‚ÄĚ
Dumas said Tupelo‚Äôs Fairpark District is an example of a redevelopment authority at work, and it demonstrates the challenges Starkville will face in developing a capital strategy for a redevelopment authority.
‚ÄúThey‚Äôre capitalized with about $22 million in cash,‚ÄĚ Dumas said. ‚ÄúWhat they do is use that directly to incentivize all the growth that‚Äôs happening there. We don‚Äôt have $22 million in cash. Tupelo has deep, deep pockets. Others have been capitalized significantly with land they use as an incentive to help growth. We don‚Äôt have a lot of land, either, but we‚Äôre working on that. We‚Äôve hired Tripp (Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow and Associates) to help us with this process.‚ÄĚ