The E.E. Cooley building, also known as the Mill, will soon undergo renovations. A groundbreaking ceremony took place at 3:30 p.m. Thursday to celebrate the new establishment. The building is located just off of campus at 600 Russell St.
The building, which was used as a cotton mill until 1962, was bought by Mississippi State University in 1965 and named after E.E. Cooley, former superintendent of utilities. Mississippi State’s Facilities Management Operations has also previously been stationed in the over-a-century old Cooley building built in 1902. The old cotton mill will be converted into a new conference center for both MSU and the Starkville area called The Mill.
In addition to the conference center, office space will also be created. Next to The Mill, a four story hotel and 450-car parking garage will be constructed.
Sid Salter, chief communications officer, said this building meant a lot to his father’s generation during the 1930s. Salter said he believes because of this project, students will be drawn to and re-connected with the E.E. Cooley building.
“Because the Cooley building has such a rich history, we think that it will be inspirational to generations of Mississippi State alums who remember it in its various historical purposes,” he said.
Salter said the building being restored for a new purpose and new glory will be exciting for alumni.
“It was a cotton mill at one point, which was its original purpose,” Salter said. “That’s why it was on the National Historic Register.”
Salter described the facility as a physical link between Starkville and campus.
MSU President Mark Keenum said the university has needed a state-of-the-art conference center for a long time.
“I think The Mill at Mississippi State University will have a transformative effect on both the city of Starkville, the surrounding area and Mississippi State,” Keenum said. “It will enhance that area tremendously, and I think will be a hub for further economic growth and development.”
Keenum said this establishment will develop much- needed office space that will be utilized by the university.
Keenum indicated that the new facility will make Starkville more attractive to those interested in living and working in the area and will have a huge impact for many years to come.
David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development, said via email that MSU’s exposure to people attending conferences and events will help dramatically improve perceptions about the university. Shaw said the new complex will provide more employment for MSU, both in the forms of part-time and full-time jobs. Shaw mentioned that students, faculty, staff and alumni can begin recruiting conferences and events that can be held in the facility.
The vision for The Mill renovation has lasted 10 years and now becomes a reality. The Mill’s location acts as a front door to MSU and is anticipated to help both the university and the city of Starkville.