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COLUMBUS, Miss. – The 12-year retail relationship between the city of Columbus and the Golden Triangle Link is coming to an end.
The two split Thursday, leaving the city free to hire Alabama-based consultants Retail Strategies to handle the city’s retail recruitment, planning and incentives.

The Link will continue to work existing developments with which it already is involved. The debate has been controversial because the Link wasn’t involved on the front end, but its leaders say the parting is on good terms.

The city can return to the Link if the deal fails over time.
“We thought give them a chance to try it, no harm, no foul, left shaking hands and wishing them luck. How we can help still in the retail recruitment area is we can continue to be ambitious in bringing in more jobs to the community, more industrial development which will give people jobs, people pay where they can go and spend and shop,” Link CEO Joe Higgins said.

If the contract approved by the City Council and finalized, the city will pay the consultants $88,00 over three years — $40,000 the first year and $24,000 in each of the next two years.

Thursday’s decision came after Mayor Robert Smith and city representatives met with staff and officers of the Golden Triangle Development LINK to discuss the future of retail development for the City of Columbus.

The meeting was prompted by the Council’s decision Tuesday to table the contract with Retail Strategies because the Link had not been involved in discussions and has handled the city’s retail strategies for 12 years. Questions about funding also led to the delay but those questions mostly have been clarified.

“We truly appreciate the Mayor’s leadership in this matter. It would have been unfair to make these decisions regarding the future of retail development without a full discussion,” Higgins said.

Higgins noted the dual relationship led by the Link with Retail Strategies playing a support role might have worked if the Link had been involved in the discussions on the front end.

The following terms were agreed upon by both groups:

– The City of Columbus will be responsible for its own retail development in the City of Columbus.

– The LINK will no longer be responsible for retail development for the City of Columbus in any capacity.

– The LINK will continue to serve the retail needs of its Chamber and Trust members.

– The City of Columbus will move forward in its plans to hire a retail consultant.

“We wish the city the best in their new endeavor to make Columbus a great place to live and do business,” said Gordon Flowers, chairman of the LINK Executive Committee. “The LINK will continue to pursue industrial development for the City of Columbus, as it can, and has, brought a wealth of opportunity to Columbus.“

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