The Tate County Economic Development Foundation (EDF) announces the hiring of Jamie Sowell as its first-ever Community Development Manager. In her new role, Sowell's primary duties include the leadership of Senatobia Main Street, the EDF's division dedicated to the restoration and revitalization of historic downtown Senatobia. Sowell will also work in related areas of membership development, tourism, event planning and management, as well as other chamber of commerce activities.
"For three years, the EDF has worked towards hiring a manager for Senatobia Main Street and our other Chamber efforts", said Tim Climer, PCED, Executive Director of the EDF. "Our progress has been slow but steady in improving downtown Senatobia, and in the formation of a functioning Main Street Board of Directors and complete organization in full compliance with all federal and state Main Street guidelines. We are thrilled to have someone of Jamie's experience to now take us to new heights, as she can channel her substantial abilities in these endeavors. We welcome her into the EDF family, and look forward to many successes in coming years."
Climer will continue to concentrate his efforts on industrial recruiting, retention and expansion, along with retail/commercial development, community infrastructure visioning and needs, education/workforce development, government relations and overall EDF oversight. Long-time EDF Administrative Assistant Glenda Neal will continue her day-to-day office management and bookkeeping duties, as well as using her vast experience with events and membership development, in addition to serving at the "front door" for inquiries into Tate County and her communities.
Sowell comes to the EDF with a strong background in marketing and sales from the DeSoto Times-Tribune and Click Magazine family. She has also worked in a Main Street office, giving her valuable insight into her new role. Sowell grew up in DeSoto County, graduated from Northwest Mississippi Community College, and has lived in Looxahoma in Tate County for six years. She is married to local business owner and fireman Butch Sowell, and they have five children.
Read featured article, "Traveling the Tanglefoot"
July/August 2016 issue of Mississippi Magazine
JACKSON, Miss. -- Three new members and a new slate of executive officers have been elected to the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) Board of Directors. The new members and officers were elected at the recent annual awards meeting held in Jackson.
Chris Chain, president of Renovations of Mississippi, Inc. in Columbus, Kagan Coughlin, executive director and trustee of Base Camp Coding Academy in Water Valley, and Kevin Stafford, professional engineer with Neel-Schaffer in Columbus have been elected as new members of the statewide board.
The newly-elected executive officers are: President Suzanne Smith, Renasant Bank in Tupelo; President-elect Allison Beasley, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development in Gulfport; Treasurer Ed Gardner, Entergy Mississippi in Jackson; and Past President Mark Loughman, Mississippi Power Company in Gulfport.
When Chain moved back to his hometown of Columbus, he became interested in the preservation of historic downtown properties. He began purchasing historic commercial buildings in downtown Columbus and developing the unused upper stories into residential apartments. He has received numerous state and local awards for his work in downtown restoration projects. Chain has developed more than 100 buildings all over the state of Mississippi. He is past president of Main Street Columbus as well as a board member for 15 years. Chain also created and chaired the first two years of Market Street Festival in Columbus, which attracts an annual crowd of more than 40,000 people. In 1996, Chain started his own company - Renovations of Mississippi, Inc. He is a licensed general contractor specializing in historic restoration and new construction with extensive experience in obtaining Historic Tax Credits and working with city officials.
Coughlin worked as an analyst for Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C. until 2006 when he accepted a position with the software company FNC Inc. in Oxford, Miss. For the past 10 years, Coughlin has been laying down deep roots in Mississippi: starting a family in Water Valley, renovating three historic residences in Water Valley, serving on the board of Water Valley Main Street for three years, including vice president and chair of the Economic Vitality committee, renovating six buildings on Main Street in Water Valley, co-founding the B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery with his wife Alexe Van Buren and currently serving on the board of Davidson Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization. He has received two state Main Street awards for his renovation efforts. Most recently, Coughlin has helped launch Base Camp Coding Academy, a non-profit education initiative that offers a free program to qualifying Mississippi youth to take them from high school graduate to regionally employed level-one software developer in 12 months. The inaugural class began June 1, 2016.
Stafford joined Neel-Schaffer in 1999 and now serves as the firm’s North Mississippi manager, working out of our Columbus office. Stafford’s 17 years of experience includes engineering design and project management in grading and drainage, sewer, water, roadway, traffic and civil site design. He has administered all aspects of projects, including schematic and conceptual development to final design; preparation of plans, specifications and contract documents; cost estimating, bidding and construction administration. Stafford coordinates workloads and manages projects with numerous public and private entities. He also serves as the engineer of record for numerous local public agencies. Stafford has served as president of the Columbus Air Force Base Community Council and president of the Columbus Main Street Association. He has been an executive board member of the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link, president of the Columbus Planning Commission, vice president of the Columbus Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals, and an active member of several other local organizations.
The MMSA board is made up of a statewide group of business, government and community leaders. The 2016 MMSA Board of Directors are as follows:
Board President Suzanne Smith, Renasant Bank; President-elect Allison Beasley, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development, Treasurer Ed Gardner of Entergy; Past President Mark Loughman of Mississippi Power; Matthew McLaughlin of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz P.C.; Hilary Burroughs, Sanderson Farms, Inc.; Steve Kelly, Board Member Emeritus; Mayor Chip Johnson, City of Hernando; Keith A. Williams, Hancock Bank; Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership; Lori Tucker, Baldwyn Main Street Chamber; Katie Blount, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leland Speed, EastGroup/Parkway Properties; Jim West, College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University; Glenn McCullough, Mississippi Development Authority; Ken P'Pool, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Leah Kemp, The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University; and Joy Foy, Mississippi Development Authority.
It’s the essential institution that keeps you informed about local events, local businesses, our schools, local government, and maybe even helps keeps politicians on the straight and true path. That institution is the North Mississippi Herald.
There are three businesses in this town that are well over 100 years old. That’s significant because staying in business even past one generation is difficult, much less multiple ones. Those over 100 year old downtown anchors are Mechanics Bank, Turnage Drugs and this newspaper, the North Mississippi Herald. When people ask me how Water Valley has kept going on, when so many other small towns have clearly suffered, I say it is money, drugs, and women (I mean Betty).
Recently the Herald street presence was looking a little rough. Now mind you, the building is in good shape, in the move up the street from the old building a decade ago, the new owner David Howell paid then the highest per square foot price for historic commercial space. It was a good deal. The building functioned and looked, relative to most buildings on the street, okay. But times have changed.
Just to the north a whole row of empty buildings have sprung back into life. To the south, major work on multiple buildings changed the street for the better. The Herald building at 416 North Main was looking a bit careworn and compared to the many restorations, out of date. Those other renovations have brought back what architects call the “local vernacular”. That’s returning the building, mainly the lower facades, and also signage, to what was there in the first place. The lower facade at the Herald was a 1960s ranch house look grafted on a 1880s building. It just didn’t work well.
David Howell knows the Herald is in the Valley for the long run and wanted the building to reflect that. So he started working with architect Leigh Ann Black. They came up with a restoration design for the lower façade and front office. They brought in James Ledford and his crew as the contractor. Bill Warren for the signs. Both Betty Shearer and Melody Smith added running commentary and critical perspective (critical can be good). And yours truly was in the mix just to aggravate them all.
I’ll ask you to walk by the Herald and take a look. Consider when you look at the building architect Mies van der Rohe’s mantras of “less is more” and “god is in the details”. Meaning simple yet precise and elegant is the aspiration. Getting the details right. James and Leigh Ann worked hard at that. The oak trim, the beaded board ceiling, the mosaic tile entranceway. Notice the texture and visual feel, step into the entranceway and see how the building welcomes you. As it should, for the newspaper represents all of us.