NEWS on LIFE, WORK, & PLAY in Mississippi's College Town

Highway 12 Business Improvement District: A Letter from Partnership CEO

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Dear Business Leaders,

Starkville and Oktibbeha County are enjoying tremendous growth in regards to development, private investment, and tourism and economic development. We’ve seen great improvements of public infrastructure throughout the City, as well as on State of Mississippi right-of-way like Highway 182. Soon, Russell Street will be renovated, thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT,) and will include the reduction of driving lanes and the addition of sidewalks and bike paths, aiming to increase safety and connectivity with Mississippi State University.

Highway 12 is a major gateway into our community and to Mississippi State University, and it’s the center of commerce in our City. In January 2014, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership (GSDP) released a strategic plan that included the formation of several key task forces, one of which was the Highway 12 Task Force. All Partnership members were invited to participate, and I’m grateful that ten members committed to the cause and have been with us ever since. The Task Force met for the first time in the Winter of 2014 and has met monthly, sometimes twice per month, over the last 20 months to formulate a plan for the Highway 12 corridor. The plan includes the formation of a Business Improvement District (BID,) with the express goal of improving safety and aesthetics on the corridor.

Mississippi statute allows for the creation of a BID, which is a special assessment district, in which property owners in the jurisdiction, assess themselves, and manage the totality of funds for improvement for that area. The proposed BID would include all businesses on Highway 12 from Mississippi State University to the Highway 25 bypass.

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This post includes renderings of the possibilities with funding created by a BID. Because there is a 10 year sunset on the legislation, and therefore, guaranteed funding for the same time period, bonding is a possibility, which allows for an immediate impact over the full corridor. The renderings depict only one intersection and thoroughfare within the corridor, but the impact would be realized throughout the entire district.

The process for creating a BID depends on input from property owners. In fact, neither a detailed plan nor a budget can be created until input is received during a formal public input session. The following list depicts the necessary steps, according to Mississippi statute, that must be taken in order for a successful creation of the BID:

— 20% of property owners within the proposed district must sign a petition to begin the authorization process for the Highway 12 BID

— Planning session will be held for all Highway 12 property owners to determine specifics of the Highway 12 BID plan

— Public hearing will be held to review the plan and receive comment from the public

— Ballots will be distributed to all Highway 12 property owners with a deadline to return to the City of Starkville City Clerk

— Board of Aldermen establish Highway 12 BID through resolution and ordinance

— Mississippi Legislature approves local and private bill to create Highway 12 BID

We have an aggressive timeline to generate the support in order to present the Mississippi Legislature with a request for a local and private bill in the 2016 legislative session, so we must get started now.

How can you help? Assist us with signing the petition (download here) to authorize the process to begin if you’re a property owner on Highway 12, or spread the word to help us reach everyone. We look forward to hearing from you through the public input session, and I am available for questions or to listen if you’d like to meet. Please call our office at (662) 323-3322 to set-up a meeting or email me at with questions or comments.

Remember, the petition is only to authorize the process. There has not been an assessment determined for the BID, and there won’t be until the majority of the property owners present at the public input session concur on a path forward. This project is a priority for leadership at the GSDP, and I hope you share in my excitement as we take the path to this vision together. Please download the petition, sign, and return to the GSDP office at 200 East Main Street, so we can move forward to the public input session.

Thank you for your commitment to the business community in Starkville and Oktibbeha County, and I look forward to hearing from you during this exciting process.

Jennifer Gregory
Chief Executive Officer
Greater Starkville Development Partnership