Russ named Natchez Inc. director

Published 11:08 am Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NATCHEZ — Chandler Russ received a pocket full of business cards and an earful of “welcome home.”

Russ, a Natchez native, was announced Tuesday as the director of Natchez, Inc. the new economic development agency of Natchez and Adams County.

Russ will begin work Nov. 1.

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Sue Stedman, Natchez, Inc. board chairman, made the announcement to a crowd of business and political leaders.

Stedman said the formation and structure of Natchez, Inc. has created new excitement about economic development. She said Russ will be able to capitalize on that excitement and push the area forward.

“Just when people thought we were all washed up on an economic development front, this county stepped up and said let’s play ball,” Stedman said.

Russ was chosen from approximately 60 applicants. Stedman said Russ was the unanimous selection of the board.

Russ has a master’s degree in economic and community development from the University of Southern Mississippi and a bachelor’s degree in regional and community planning, also from Southern Miss.

Currently Russ is the director of the existing industry and business division of the Mississippi Development Authority in Jackson. He has been in that position since 2008.

In that position, Stedman said, Russ is responsible for growing and retaining Mississippi’s current business and industry population.

Previously, Russ was economic development project manager for the Mississippi region with the Tennessee Valley Authority in Tupelo, executive director of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Development Foundation, executive director of the Copiah County Economic Development District and executive director Prescott-Nevada County Partnership in Prescott, Ariz.

Russ said all of his previous work experience has prepared him for his new role with Natchez, Inc.

“It sounds like I can’t keep a job, but each time I left a position it was always to gain experience and knowledge in economic development,” Russ said.

Russ said his familiarity with Natchez and Adams County without a doubt gives him a leg up when it comes to business prospects, but he is anxious to work with partnering agencies and existing businesses to further the area.

“We really have to dig in our heels and push forward with economic development,” he said. “It is vital that we have a good, strong effort from both the public and private arena to accomplish our goals.”

Natchez, Inc. was officially formed on June 1 and is funded through a combination of private funds from local businesses and through allocations from the City of Natchez and Adams County.

Natchez Now, the private business fundraising group for Natchez, Inc., contributes $115,000 annually, and the city and county will annually contribute $100,000 and $165,000, respectively.

Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the county already has a working relationship with Russ through MDA and said the county is ready to work more with Russ at Natchez, Inc.

“He was instrumental, on the state level, in helping us retain jobs in Adams County with Mississippi River Corp., now Mississippi River Pulp,” Grennell said. “I think he is going to do a great job in Natchez and Adams County.”

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said the city is excited to assist Russ and Natchez, Inc. in economic development efforts.

“I want you to know that we are business friendly, we are supportive, we know when to keep our mouths shut, and we are ready to move forward,” Mathis said to Russ. “