By STEVEN NALLEY
Four of Starkville’s preeminent leaders will discuss community topics and issues at Mississippi State University’s Leo W. Seal M-Club Center at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday during the Community Roundtable Luncheon.
The members of the roundtable are Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, Greater Starkville Development Partnership President and CEO Jon Maynard, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Marvell Howard and MSU President Mark Keenum.
Maynard said the group meets for lunch on the first Friday of every month, but only once per quarter do they hold a luncheon and invite the public. In their monthly discussions, he said, the four discuss ongoing issues under each of their umbrellas as well as topics they can collaborate on. At the public luncheons, he said, everything the four have discussed over the past quarter comes back up for discussion.
“The city, county, business community and the university are working together for a better Oktibbeha County and to be a better player in the regional economic development team,” Maynard said. “Each quarter, it is sponsored by one of the organizations. This quarter, it’s sponsored by GSDP.”
Wiseman said the group does not operate with a firm agenda, instead opting for a true roundtable discussion where each representative gives a report followed by discussion of collaborative opportunities. He said the organic structure of the roundtable has led to success in the past.
“I think it gives us a system of that formulates a mode of thinking about the community as a whole and how we succeed together, rather than each organization chasing its own mission exclusively,” Wiseman said. “This organization serves as a model for considering how our missions overlap and how we can succeed at what we do by collaborating with each other. That discussion tends to take on a life of its own.”
Maynard said the roundtable luncheons began two years ago. An example of a measure developed from the luncheons, he said, was a request for funds for an overlay of Airport Road that would create a western entrance from Highway 25 into George Bryan Airport. That request was denied, Maynard said, when a bill with no earmarks replaced the bill for which the Airport Road project was earmarked.
“It’s almost never a forum where we announce something big,” Maynard said. “It’s just a very informal luncheon where we get together and talk about things we have been talking about.”
Maynard said the luncheon is open to the public, but the lunch selection is only open to guests with invitations.