By CARL SMITH
Three nominations remain to be announced for a board charged with representing Oktibbeha County in tri-county economic development initiatives.
Last week, the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors nominated Zelma Talley, a retired businessperson, to serve on a four-person board which will be comprised of local representatives.
Along with county economic development agencies, Starkville and county governing boards previously entered into a three-year agreement on Halloween that places interim economic development with the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link while developers work to establish a permanent consortium — the Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority. The LINK, led by CEO Joe Max Higgins, already handles economic development for Lowndes and Clay counties.
The development deal signed with the LINK states the agency will amend its own bylaws in order to change its name to the Golden Triangle Development LINK, expand the size of its board of directors to include four additional directors from Oktibbeha County and increase its executive committee by two members to be chosen from the additional four directors.
Although Talley was nominated by the county, the language of the contract states the four directors appointments shall be made by the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. Calls to GSDP representatives and Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer went unreturned as of press time.
Talley, a Starkville native, says she is excited for the opportunity to represent Oktibbeha County within the LINK Board of Directors. For 27 years, she and her sister ran a computer service business in Ohio which primarily handled federal contracts. Once her sister became ill, Talley said, she closed the business and returned home.
“I feel like I’ve proven age is not a barrier,” the 67-year-old said. “Business has been my life, but I really enjoy learning and giving back.”
Talley, who found business success with only a high school degree to her credit, enrolled at Mississippi State University after she returned to the Golden Triangle and studied risk management, insurance and financial planning. She will graduate with honors in December.
“I went back to school with intention, and I do everything with intention,” she said. “That’s how I want to approach this (LINK board of directors) position. I want to bring some value to my community and help everyone around me.”