Thursday, January 23, 2014
County IDA director retiring
By SUE WATSON
His father was born in Marshall County and he has lots of relatives here. He also lived in Holly Springs for 15 of his adult years.
Bill Mobley is retiring at the end of February, concluding 29-plus years in the economic development field.
He and his wife, Diana, live in Oxford where she is employed at Ole Miss.
“I feel a deep connection to Marshall County,” Mobley said. “I wanted it to succeed, to do well.”
Mobley thinks the growth and development of the last five years, while he has served as director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, are just the tip of the iceberg.
“I think this is just a start, the kick-off of what is going to happen in Marshall County,” he said, looking over a list of existing company expansions and new industries that have invested in the county since he came to head the IDA in December 2008.
Counting just the dollar investments, nine companies have invested $204,850,000 since Mobley arrived in 2008. This year another $50 million of a commitment of $100 million will be added covering the next three years. Eight-hundred and ten jobs have been created from this investment.
New companies that have decided to locate in the county since Mobley came to the IDA include R.C. Properties, CRDN, Asics, Panattonie/Adair and Roxul. Expanded existing companies are Contract Fabricators, KP Building Products, CIT Armored, Smith Transportation, and Thomas and Betts.
The investment in expansions totals $14.25 million, which has created 130 new jobs.
The county has received $16.253 million in grants to build the infrastructure for new and existing businesses in the last five years.
Justin Hall has been hired to replace Mobley, who has been grooming Hall for the job.
“He’s primed and ready to take over,” Mobley said. “I don’t think they could find a better person in the state.”
Mobley said economic development is “a rough business.”
There are so many players involved, from the local and small companies and local leaders to the state and national, even international players.
“Competition is next door and against the world in a lot of cases,” Mobley said.
As an example, Roxul, a manufacturer of stone wool insulation, is an international corporation. Just recently a Japanese company, Suntory, acquired Jim Beam in a $16 billion buyout. Budweiser, a U.S. company, was bought out by a Belgium brewer for $52 billion.
Mobley said IDA has worked for the growth and economic development countywide, not just in the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park. New businesses and expansions have taken place in Byhalia and Holly Springs, and IDA has worked on projects to go in at Potts Camp.
Mobley touted working for four chairmen of the board – Rodney Whaley, the late Bill York, Bill Scott and Russell Johnson.
“The board has been good to work with and they’ve got the best interests of Marshall County at heart,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize what we have done.”
Economic development has to take place behind the scenes and in a quiet way, Mobley said.
“Competition is extremely stiff,” he said. “It’s a tough business, but it is fun.”
Mobley worked for the Mississippi Development Authority and for the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo, which he said is one of the top economic development outfits in the country.
Whaley praised Mobley for bringing to IDA his network of connections from across the state.
“He has been very, very beneficial to us over the years,” Whaley said. “He put a lot of deals together that worked out for the county because of his familiarity with the people and all the projects. A lot of growth has taken place during his tenure here.
“He was the right guy at the right time. We were fortunate to find him. It was not a breaking in and learning period, as is certainly evidenced by the progress we’ve made in four years. Bill is commended for his transition efforts in getting Justin ready for IDA.”
Johnson, current president of the IDA board of directors, agreed.
“I think he has carried economic development to another level,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen growth we’ve never seen and he has covered the whole county, Byhalia, Holly Springs and Potts Camp. As a board, we wish him the best and congratulate him on his retirement.”
Mobley said, “It’s been a pleasure, a team effort. I love Marshall County and its people.”
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