Commercial Dispatch – North Star Industrial Park prepares for new industries

Garan Manufacturing has been the sole occupant of North Star Industrial Park for a little more than a year, but the Golden Triangle Development LINK is looking to give Garan a few neighbors soon.

Joe Max Higgins, chief executive officer for the LINK, said plans are to build nine and 10 buildings at North Star, located off Highway 389 in Starkville. Currently the LINK is working on finishing the slab for a 50,000 square-foot speculative building across from Garan, and the materials for that building arrived on site the week of May 9.

“We’ve got $3.4 million in a grant from the state of Mississippi to do further enhancements to the park,” Higgins said. “We’re going to start clearing the trees and vegetation and knocking the hills off. We’ve got a 50,000 square-foot building that is expandable up to 100,000, and right next to it we’re going to put a 100,000 square-foot building. In that park where Garan is on the north side, we envision there will be about four buildings of about 100,000 square feet down the south side and probably three or four on the north side. We also have the flat spot to develop, and we’ve actually got a company looking at it right now.”

Garan houses administrative offices, engineers and the company’s information technology department at North Star. The location also specializes in making patterns and samples for the children’s clothing the company as a whole sells, known as Garanimals.

Although Garan’s corporate headquarters are in New York City, its manufacturing arm has been headquartered in Starkville since 1964 at its former location on Highway 12. In March 2021, Garan permanently moved to a new building that accommodates the needs of business and the 120 employees in a more modern setting.

“At this building, we are support for all of our manufacturing entities throughout the world,” manufacturing manager Greg Fuller said of the North Star plant. “We make samples here, we make patterns here and we have all of our compliance and regulatory staff here. We also have our distribution vice president here, and they support our distribution efforts and centers across the United States.”

Howard Linzy, vice president for corporate human resources, said though the former building was bigger, the extra space did not necessarily mean more room to function. He also said Garan is ready to welcome a new neighbor whenever the next industry makes its way to North Star.

“Our workforce here is very glad to be in a new building, a very fresh, modern environment,” Linzy said. “It’s smaller than what we had before, but we didn’t really need a lot of unused space. It was very dated. We now have a much more pleasant working environment.”

Once the 50,000 square-foot building is up across from Garan, the LINK will add a 100,000 square-foot building thanks to grants from the state of Mississippi. Higgins said the purpose of the, hopefully, temporarily empty buildings are to entice industries to come to Starkville.

The LINK recruits businesses in three different ways: through the Mississippi Development Authority, through the Tennessee Valley Authority and through its own “off-the-street” efforts, Higgins said. In order to attract new businesses and industry to the area, the LINK must have options available to businesses, and Higgins said the North Star Industrial Park is a prime location.

“Deals will come in; we had one here last week that was another (one) that we found,” Higgins said. “A company came from up north looking at expanding down south to be near the automotive car corridor. (It’s a) $25 to 30 million project with 60 to 70 jobs. We met with them, showed them sites, including North Star. Once (a business) says they like what they see, we start working with them and bring in our partners, civil engineers to calculate cost and building plans.”

Once those things are done, the LINK sends a company an incentive package. Then it finds the source and use of funds and speaks with the legislature. Higgins is hoping to bring in electric vehicle battery manufacturers and more automotive supply companies because of the proximity of the Golden Triangle to Nissan, Toyota and Mercedes facilities.

In a perfect world, Higgins said he would like to have the park full within the next year, but realistically he is looking at having it full within the next 15 to 20 years.

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