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Barksdale To Take Over MDA

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 04 Jan 2012 07:13pm | comments
James Barksdale

A well-known Mississippi businessman is expected to take over as the next head of the Mississippi Development Authority. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that this is the first agency head announced by governor-elect Phil Bryant.

Former Netscape CEO and Jackson native Jim Barksdale is taking the lead at Mississippi's main economic agency, the Mississippi Development Authority.

At a Wednesday press conference in Jackson, Governor-Elect Phil Bryant announced his plans to name Barksdale to the position when he takes over as Governor next week.

"I looked the world over. And I said the one appointment I intend to announce will be this one, before I am sworn in as Governor, because it is so important to the people of the state of Mississippi," Bryant said.

Bryant expects Barksdale to serve for three or four months while they search for a permanent head.

Barksdale says he plans to use that time to review the agency, and improve its ability to attract industry and promote tourism.

"I plan to find a group of people that I can depend on that are outside of the agency but know about businesses in this state. People who run business, people who have brought business in, or people who are still running businesses. To help me work on, what are the real things that we can emphasis in this state to help bring in jobs and opportunity. That is what we need," Barksdale said.

Barksdale says he will stay longer than the four month window if necessary.

He is replacing interim director Leland Speed, who heaped praise on Barksdale.

"In my fondest moments I never conceived that we would be able to get a rascal like Jim to come over here and take this job with MDA and your administration. This is a super step for our state. It makes a real statement," Speed said.

Barksdale, who currently runs the Barksdale Management Group, says state ethics officials have told him that there's no conflict between the M-D-A role and his other activities, such as his business investments and philanthropic efforts aimed at improving public education in Mississippi.

He will be paid a one dollar salary.

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James Barksdale


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