Natchez, Inc. begins search for executive director

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 11, 2010

NATCHEZ — As one of its first moves, Natchez, Inc. is using an old fashioned method to hire its executive director: a want ad.

Natchez, Inc. Chairman Sue Stedman said she has already received 15 promising applications.

The advertisement, which is posted on the Natchez, Inc. Web site at http://natchezinc.com/employment.htm, was recently posted on four economic development Web sites, which those in the economic development field would monitor, including the International Economic Development Council Web site, www.iedconline.org.

Resumes Stedman has seen so far come from all over the United States, from California to West Virginia, and she has also seen some Natchezians in the mix.

“It would be great if (a candidate is) from Mississippi, but its not a prerequisite,” Stedman said.

“We’re looking for experience and ability.”

The new director will be required to move to Natchez and become a resident within six months.

Stedman said to save money, Natchez, Inc. members decided to conduct an independent search with advertisements rather than using a professional search agency, since an agency would cost approximately $50,000.

Stedman said if the advertising method fails, the group will resort to hiring an agency, but so far applications have been “outstanding,” she said.

The director will work full-time for a salary up to $130,000 a year, based on experience and qualifications, according to the advertisement.

Preferred qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in public administration, business, economics, marketing or a related field, and at least five years of experience in economic development, marketing, planning or related business experience.

Stedman said she hopes to find a candidate with previous economic development experience on a state or local level, or with a chamber of commerce or corporation, and someone familiar with project development and site selection who can communicate well with corporate executives.

Stedman said the group would also look for other, less tangible skills.

“Somebody that can sell Natchez,” she said.

She said the director should have the ability to evaluate Natchez’s assets, market assets effectively and work as a team player with Mississippi Development Authority.

Since Natchez, Inc.’s founding, Stedman said many small successes have left it feeling enthusiastic.

She said raising $150,000 in three weeks during the Christmas holidays was one of the group’s biggest accomplishments. In addition, Stedman has been impressed with how well the group has been working with elected and appointed officials.

“The best thing I’ve encountered so far is the spirit of cooperation,” Stedman said.

She said the main difference between the group and the former Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority is the switch from totally public to a partially privatized organization.

“This is just different,” Stedman said. “I think it affects everything.”