Leadership in Mississippi

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The leadership team at the Mississippi Development Authority is driven by a single mission: attract and retain top businesses and people to create vibrant Mississippi communities. With experience in every industry, our team is well equipped to help companies with their expansions and new locations in Mississippi. Contact us today.

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Laura Hipp
Interim Executive Director

Laura Hipp

Laura Hipp serves as interim executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. She also has served as chief marketing officer, managing the marketing and communications for economic development and tourism. Hipp has extensive experience shaping communications and public policy strategy. She was director of communications for Gov. Tate Reeves when he served as lieutenant governor, working with elected officials and the private sector. She previously served as director of communications for former Gov. Haley Barbour. Additionally, she worked for 10 years as an award-winning reporter in Mississippi and Texas at several publications, including The Clarion Ledger and Austin Business Journal.

Chief Economic Development Officer

Bill Cork

Bill Cork is an economic development executive with extensive experience in the areas of transportation, logistics, defense, aerospace and chemicals development in the state. He was previously CEO of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission where he led economic development efforts for Stennis International Airport, Port Bienville Industrial Park maritime port and the Port Bienville Railroad, and he also worked with Stennis Space Center. Cork also founded Cork Consulting Group, a real estate, urban planning and public finance consulting firm. Prior to his consulting work, he was CEO of TexAmericas Center in New Boston, Texas. He also is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Chief Operations Officer

Jamie Miller

Jamie Miller serves as the chief operations officer for the Mississippi Development Authority. In this position, Miller focuses primarily on local, state, federal and international government relations. With prior experience in the Governor’s Office of Disaster Recovery, he serves as disaster recovery administrator and oversees state-owned ports. Additionally, Miller coordinates with all Mississippi military installations on behalf of MDA, monitors all base realignment and closure activities, works with the Mississippi Military Communities Council, coordinates all university and federal research center relations for MDA, serves as liaison to the Delta Regional Authority and Appalachian Regional Commission and oversees statewide benchmarks and project performance initiatives. Miller has public- and private-sector experience working in South Mississippi and Washington, D.C.

Chief Financial Officer

Mike McGrevey

Mike McGrevey serves as chief financial officer of Mississippi Development Authority. In this position, McGrevey oversees the agency’s business recruitment, retention and expansion efforts and leads the promotion of small businesses and entrepreneurs and exporting Mississippi products internationally. McGrevey has served in several positions throughout Mississippi, including vice president for finance and administration, chief financial officer and chief of staff for Mississippi State University, president of The Montgomery Institute, president and chief operations officer for an education company, chief administrative officer for the city of Meridian and executive director of Kemper County Economic Development Authority. McGrevey also served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years.

Director, International Trade and Investment

Chris Engels

Chris Engels is a lawyer with more than 15 years of international experience. He has worked in the Balkans, Western Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Central Asia. He has managed large national teams, advised governments and held senior positions in international organizations. He also has experience building new organizations, as well as assisting in institutional restructuring across Europe. Prior to returning to Mississippi, Chris was the director of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, where he managed operations across nine countries and three continents.

Deputy Chief of Economic Development

Tracey Giles

Tracey Giles has worked with the Mississippi Development Authority since 2002, previously serving as a bureau manager within the former Existing Industry and Business and Community Services Divisions. Before joining MDA, with the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration and also in the private sector. In 2007, Tracey received the Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) certificate and completed the Economic Development Institute program offered by the University of Oklahoma.

Director of Minority and Small Business

Carol Harris

Carol Harris joined the Mississippi Development Authority in January 2002 as an associate manager within the Minority and Small Business Development Division. She has since served in several positions within the division, ranging from associate manager to interim director. As current director of the Minority and Small Business Development Division, Harris leads the division in advocating on behalf of minority- and women-owned enterprises and promotes the participation of small-, minority- and women-owned businesses in the statewide economy.

Director of Business Incentives

Sara Watson

Sara Watson is the director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Business Incentives Division. In this role, she is responsible for coordinating state-funded incentive programs for the agency and developing incentive packages for new and expanding industry in the state. Sara also leads the agency’s efforts to provide technical assistance to companies, site selection consultants, and economic development professionals in the state regarding Mississippi’s business incentives programs. Sara joined MDA in 2006, and joined the Financial Resources Division in 2011.

Director of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Joe Donovan

Joe Donovan’s primary responsibility within The Entrepreneur Center is to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem that ‘raises entrepreneurs’ and attracts start-up businesses to Mississippi. Previously, he was the principal at The Donovan Consulting Group, focusing on start-ups, business development plans, business restructuring, re-branding, growth and expansions. Throughout his career, Donovan has held the title of CFO, COO and CAO for an array of non- and for-profit companies.

Director of Community Incentives

Steve Hardin

Steve Hardin has served as a part of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Community Incentives team since 2007. His current primary responsibility is the oversight of the financial assistance programs that advance the state’s economic and community development efforts. Prior experience includes three years with MDA as the manager of the Community Operations Bureau and three years as director of the Regional Services Division. Hardin is a member of the Mississippi Economic Development Council, where he served as president from 1991 to 1992. He also serves as Mississippi’s representative on the Council of State Community Development Agencies.

Chance McDavid
Director of Community and Rural Development

Chance McDavid

Chance McDavid previously served as senior extension associate with the Southern Rural Development Center and Department of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University. He has nearly 15 years of experience in community and economic development, serving at the local, regional and state levels with university extension and outreach, as well as serving as vice president and chief operations officer for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.

Director of Business Research & Workforce Development

Bill Ashley

Bill Ashley brings to the Mississippi Development Authority decades of experience managing Mississippi community colleges and examining workforce needs in the region. He previously served as president of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, guiding the college through workforce and economic development initiatives. He has more than 20 years of experience with four of Mississippi’s community colleges. During that time, he saw firsthand how community colleges, communities and the state can work together to develop a strong workforce.

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