Christensen appointed to head development authority - - Jackson, MS

Christensen appointed to head development authority

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As business leaders from across the state gathered in downtown Jackson, governor Phil Bryant introduced them to a man whom they may want to get to know. His name is Brent Christensen and he's the new executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. It's an appointment Bryant says is the most important one he'll make.

"There were times during the recruitment effort that I can assure you, I thought we had failed," said Bryant.

However, a four month search turned up Christensen who spent the last ten years as president and CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce in Gainesville, Florida. Before that, he began his career at the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg.

Christensen says he's ready to get to work creating jobs in the state while getting a deeper understanding of the state's economy.

"I'm not an expert, that's probably a valid criticism, but I'm going to be a quick study and I'm going to get up to speed very, very quickly," said Christensen.

Christensen says he plans on traveling across the state for a listening tour and when taking over the agency, he says he'll have a very pointed approach.  

"There's a number of things we're going to be. We're going to be proactive, we're going to be aggressive, we're going to be innovative and we're going to be relentless at MDA. We're going to get the word out that Mississippi is open for business and ready for those businesses," said Christensen.

Christensen replaces interim director Jim Barksdale who Bryant appointed back in January. Barksdale even led the selection process.  

"What we were looking for was the person who had the talent, the drive, the ability and the knowledge to actually be effective in this job," said Barksdale.

With that person now in place, governor Bryant says the state's economic future is looking much better.

"Moving to that next level is one of the things we've talked about in creating a new dynamic," said Bryant.

With the position comes a base pay of a $183,000 a year, plus performance based bonuses.     Christensen is set to take over in early June.

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