- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - More than a month after ending a 10-year partnership for retail development, the Golden Triangle Development LINK and city of Columbus have renewed those ties.

The Commercial Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1jDGWAQ) that at a press release on Wednesday, the groups said the LINK will resume recruiting retail opportunities for the city.

On Jan. 23, the three-county economic development group that originated in Columbus and Lowndes County announced it was breaking the relationship with Columbus.

The announcement came two days after councilmen considered contracting with another retail recruitment firm to augment the LINK’s work.

During a meeting Jan. 14, representatives of Birmingham, Ala.-based Retail Strategies spoke to councilmen on what they would do to recruit more business and sales tax revenue if the city contracted with the firm.

Two days later, LINK officials said they were discontinuing their retail ties with the city but would continue representing its industrial development interests.

LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said during exchanges with city leaders before the announcement, LINK leaders “didn’t hear anything that made us want to stay at the table.”

On Wednesday, LINK executive committee chairman Gordon Flowers said Mayor Robert Smith was instrumental in bringing the two parties back together on retail recruitment.

“Mayor Smith wisely thought through the situation and suggested that we get together with the council members and have further discussions,” Flowers said. “We were able to express ourselves and air the issues out. We provided the members of the council and the mayor information that showed what retail development had occurred here in Columbus and we were very pleased with what the LINK has accomplished in the last years.”

Smith said initiating those discussions was “the right thing to do.”

“I thought we did what’s in the best interests of the LINK and the city,” Smith said. “I was just elated that we could reconcile our differences, work together and move forward from this point on.”

Officials of Retail Strategies did not respond to requests for comment.

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com