Mississippi will seek new economic development director

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves will start searching for someone new to lead the state’s economic development agency.

The governor’s office announced Friday that John Rounsaville of Madison will step down as Mississippi Development Authority director on Aug. 31.

Reeves, a Republican, named Rounsaville interim director of MDA in May 2020, then nominated him as director in January of this year. The state Senate confirmed Rounsaville for the $180,000-a-year job.

The governor’s news release said MDA has administered $160 million in COVID-19 recovery money to assist businesses, renters, healthcare providers, schools and childcare centers. It also said that with Rounsaville as director, the agency increased the average annual capital investment into the state in 2020 to $1.8 billion, which is double the previous 10-year annual average.

“I am confident MDA is on a strong trajectory and will continue realizing tremendous success in its economic development efforts,” Rounsaville said in the release. “With a young family and a new baby born last year, my wife and I believe it is time to pursue a new opportunity that will enable me to focus more on my family and spend less time traveling.”

Rounsaville is an attorney, and he worked for several Republicans before taking the job at MDA. He was on the staff of then-U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering from 1998 to 2003, then became a policy adviser for then-Gov. Haley Barbour from 2004 to 2006.

Rounsaville was state director for USDA rural development from 2006 to 2008. He was vice president of strategic services for an engineering firm from 2008 to 2017, and then again became state director for USDA rural development.

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