Starkville has found ways to grow economic development throughout the pandemic

STARKVILLE – Starkville has seen 23 new retailers and 22 new restaurants since January 2020.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a difficult time for economic development, Starkville has continued to grow and prosper, Mike Tagert, CEO of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership and director of business and economic partnerships, said Monday. Mississippi State University, Starkville Rotarians.

For the first time, the Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce, an arm of the Partnership, surpassed 600 member companies with a retention rate of 92%.
“We are very lucky to live in a community where we see this kind of growth all the time,” Tagert said.

Sales taxes of 2% on food and beverages and 1% on hotels in Starkville have helped bring new development and tourism to the city, Tagert said. Every year in the past decade except 2020 has broken its own record for revenue generated.

While the overall tourism loss for 2020 was 19% for the state, surrounding states saw a 30-40% loss. At a time when people weren’t traveling, Tagert said Starkville played a role in promoting tourism in the state by participating in the Mississippi Tourism Recovery Fund.

“Every state experienced a dramatic loss of food and beverage tax, as well as lodging tax, in the early days and first year of the pandemic,” Tagert said. “Mississippi was the least impacted, and we believe this is due to the promotional efforts that were put in place during this time.”

Tagert said the partnership works with other organizations across the city, such as the MSU Small Business Center and the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, to provide resources for entrepreneurship. He said the Partnership works daily to generate data and analysis to find the best mechanisms for all trading partners.

Starkville was recently ranked the eighth most visited city in the state in 2021, surpassing even Tupelo. More than $103 million came from community visitation spending last year.

With the development of Cornerstone Park, Starkville’s new baseball and softball complex slated to open in August, and Northstar Industrial Park, Tagert said he not only expects a great return on investment, but also to the development of new jobs and residences. .

“If you look at what’s happening today and you look at all the good investments in our community and you think about a major league of tourist sports facilities that’s really going to go into all these SEC sporting events, that going to make our accommodation economy much stronger,” he said. “It will diversify our economy. It’s going to have a huge impact. »

Starkville was named a Certified Hometown Retirement Community in 2021 and named the best city in the state to retire by the annual Insurify Report. With its multiple citywide partnerships and constant developments, Tagert said he believes the state of the city’s business community will continue to grow.

“I say our community is thriving and we’ve only scratched the bare surface of what’s to come,” Tagert said.