Contact: Jed Pressgrove
STARKVILLE, Miss.—A just-released Mississippi State survey report estimates $554 million is spent annually at Starkville retail stores by residents and visitors, along with university students, alumni, faculty and staff members.
In addition, the same groups collectively spread around another $54 million each year at retail stores outside the city.
The report was produced by MSU’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, with support from the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said the report confirms what he and others have come to appreciate about the municipal and campus communities’ significant buying power.
“I believe the retail market in Starkville is poised for rapid growth in the future, and these numbers make that case,” Wiseman said.
Among other NSPARC survey findings:
—The two communities specifically spend millions every year outside Starkville on groceries, clothing, dining, automotive goods and services, and entertainment;
—The vast majority of survey respondents would or very likely would spend money at restaurants and major stores in a new Starkville shopping center; and
—Target and Olive Garden are the most highly desired chain retail and food establishments, respectively.
An MSU alumnus and former student body president, Wiseman admitted the city has had challenges in attracting certain commercial chains, but expressed hope the survey will help bring about a different outcome in regard to future prospects.
The two-term city leader first approached NSPARC at MSU some two years ago to develop an all-encompassing estimation of Starkville’s buying power.
“We have long believed that permanent residents, students, and visitors alike deserve the most robust retail experience we can provide,” Wiseman said. “These results will be a powerful tool in enabling us to reach our potential in terms of retail offerings.”
Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi, the research center’s executive director, said the survey findings could help lead Starkville to unexpected opportunities. “Sometimes we make decisions where we live and work based on the quality of the amenities and services available in a community,” he observed.
As Starkville continues to become a more and more diverse population, Parisi said “retail options have to be grown in a way that meets the expectations of a diversifying population.”
Ultimately, he added, the survey can serve as “a roadmap for an economic development strategy that we haven’t even thought about yet or that we didn’t think was possible.”
David Shaw, MSU’s vice president for research and economic development, said the land-grant institution’s primary economic development mission is to strengthen collaborations between the university and economic development organizations and businesses, with the ultimate goal of creating high-wage jobs in Mississippi.
While many “may not think about our research as ‘community engagement,’ our faculty, staff and student researchers are doing amazing work that leads to real-world results that can enhance economic opportunities and quality of life,” Shaw said.
Speaking for the Starkville Board of Aldermen and others working to enhance the city economic base, Wiseman expressed gratitude to all involved in the survey.
“We are very thankful for the team at NSPARC that undertook the survey and analysis,” he said. “They are topnotch and have demonstrated expertise that will contribute to the growth and development of this community.”
The mayor also thanked the Greater Starkville Development Partnership for providing prizes used as incentives to obtain a strong survey response. Because of GSDP support, randomly selected respondents will receive such gifts as premium seating at a major athletic activity and tickets to a premier local cultural event.
For complete details on the work of NSPARC, visit www.nsparc.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.