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10/26/10 - IHL gives OK to proceed with Cotton Mills project

Cooley Building

The Board of Trustees of Mississippi's Institutions of Higher Learning gave its approval Oct. 21 to a Mississippi State University proposal to advance development of the Cotton Mills Marketplace project in Starkville.

MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum said, "I am pleased that the IHL board approved our request to move forward with this important project. This development will afford the opportunity to have a world-class convention center that will support activities on campus and in the community. It will provide a significant economic boost to the entire region."

The Cotton Mills Development Group is working on the final stages of the financing package for the development, which will also include a 150-room hotel, restaurant and office space.

Dr. Keenum noted that the convention center would be built to International Association of Convention Center (IACC) specifications, which would make it the only facility in a three-state region to have the designation. That would create new convention opportunities for organizations which require events to be held in IACC facilities, he said.

The Development Group would purchase land adjacent MSU's Cooley Building for $2.8 million and enter into a lease agreement with MSU for the Cooley Building for $300,000 per year. The facility will be renovated and converted into a conference center and 37,000 square feet of office space. The Cooley lease agreement is for 41 years with the property then reverting back to MSU. The Group will also pay Mississippi State up to $850,000 in relocation costs related to operations currently run out of the Cooley Building. Research centers at MSU are expected to lease space in the facility.

Total project cost is more than $64 million.

"The proposed Cotton Mill development with its hotel, conference center, and both office and retail space, will provide a signature venue for the community that is unique to the market. The facility will draw thousands of users, increase tax revenues in the area and will positively impact the quality of life. MDA is pleased to work with our community partners and the university to provide funding for infrastructure needs," said Gray Swoope, Executive Director, Mississippi Development Authority.

MARIDITH GEUDER | University Relations

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