Created under a 1974 state law, Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority (LCIDA) was formed as a Lowndes County subsidiary that oversees economic development efforts.
LCIDA is responsible for land purchases for industrial expansion, maintenance and infrastructure building primarily at the Lowndes County Industrial Park near the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. It receives annual funding from the county just like other departments. The county is LCIDA’s primary funding source and it is also responsible for all of LCIDA’s debts.
The first industry whose way was paved by the organization was Weyerhauser, which began construction of its Columbus mill in the 1970s, said LCIDA board president Thomas Lee.
“It was nothing but wasted land,” Lee said of the time before Weyerhauser. “People were out there rabbit hunting.”
LCIDA now owns almost 5,000 acres of land surrounding the Golden Triangle Regional Airport, according to a fact sheet from the Golden Triangle Development LINK, which LCIDA hires to manage its daily business. The average annual budget for operations is about $2.5 million, according to an email from the LINK Tuesday morning.
The site has attracted more than 20 industries over the years, including Steel Dynamics Inc., PACCAR, Stark Aerospace, Airbus and Lexicon.
LCIDA is also responsible for maintaining industry assets on the site, including four wells, two pressure filter water treatment plants, three elevated water tanks, 26.5 miles of water lines, nine wastewater lift stations, 6.84 miles of sewer mains, a biological wastewater treatment facility and generators, according to the LINK’s fact sheet.
The authority is governed by seven board members, including one from each supervisors’ district and two at-large members, who can live anywhere in the county. All members are supervisor appointees and each serves two-year terms. The board members do not receive any stipend.
Before the LINK took over the management of LCIDA in 2003, Charleigh Ford was the one who helped manage LCIDA’s business, Lee said. Now, the LINK is responsible for recruiting industries and negotiating deals with them, whereas LCIDA holds the land and takes care of infrastructure and maintenance.
LCIDA’s governing body, as well as its relationship with the LINK, is similar to the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority (OCEDA), said Lynn Spruill, Starkville Mayor and president of the OCEDA board. The board consists of five supervisor appointees and the mayors of Sturgis, Maben and Starkville. OCEDA owns the North Star Industrial Park and the building that houses the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, she said.
“It is essentially an organization that works for Oktibbeha County and works through the LINK for the industrial recruitment side of it,” Spruill said.
However, unlike LCIDA, OCEDA does not receive any county funding, she said. Instead, the authority collects rent from industries located at the industrial park and receives 15 percent of the 2-percent food and beverage tax revenue in Starkville. In Fiscal Year 2019, for example, the tax generated $323,414 for OCEDA — the bulk of its annual budget of roughly $400,000, she said.
LCIDA board members
■ Thomas Lee-President
■ Frank Lockhart-Vice President
■ Karl Williams-Secretary
■ Ronnie West
■ Adam Charles Holmes
■ Pete Perkins
■ Greg Rader (whose term expired Nov. 30)
Yue Stella Yu was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.