After successfully helping add jobs to the Dollar General Distribution Center, facilitating Drew’s declared status as “Waterfowl Capital of Mississippi” and lobbying for the $10-million B.B. King Museum for Sunflower County, Tim Climer is moving from the Sunflower County Economic Development District in Indianola, where he served as executive director, to West Point, where he will take the helm of the newly organized West Point/Clay County Community Growth Alliance (Growth Alliance) June 1.
“I’ve always believed West Point and Clay County needed a full-time, professional developer to remain competitive,” said West Point Mayor Scott Ross. “Tim … has all the qualities we were looking for and is highly regarded within the economic development circles in our state and region.”
BankFirst president Pete Hodo III, board chairman of the Growth Alliance, played an integral role in recruiting Climer and establishing the new organization. “We’re in the process of developing a short-range plan and a five-year plan that will give us optimal opportunity for growth,” he said.
Restructuring the Clay County Economic Development Corporation into the Growth Alliance mirrors the trend in community and economic development to merge all of a community’s resources under one umbrella organization, said Climer.
“In other words, it should be more efficient, effective and fruitful for a community to work together with one voice in development issues,” he said. “These days, a community has to strive to do everything well in order to achieve success: industrial retention, expansion and creation, retail development, small business development, workforce development and education, infrastructure improvements, tourism and other community development programs like Main Street, retiree attraction, leadership development.”
A native of Southaven, Climer earned a business administration degree from Ole Miss and studied economic development at the University of Central Arkansas’ Community Development Institute and the University of Southern Mississippi’s New South Economic Development Course.
“The decision to purse an economic development career was probably the best business decision I ever made because I enjoy and have a passion for this work that was harder to manage in the private sector,” said Climer, who served as the first president of the North Mississippi Enterprise Initiative Inc., an Oxford-based system of three regional incubators.
Certified as a community and economic developer by the International Community Development Council and the Southern Economic Development Council, Climer has also held positions in accounting, auditing and marketing for several private businesses — he spent 14 years in his wife’s hometown of Batesville — prior to his position with the Sunflower County Economic Development District.
“As a lifetime goal, I really have never considered anything specific, other than I want to assist in every possible way the citizens of West Point and Clay County in achieving our vision of economic growth and prosperity, and enhancements to quality of life,” he said. “The community has had a tradition of good leadership and has been known for being a great place to live and work, and we want to nurture that and expand upon that legacy.”
Before listing priorities to “put legs on the community’s vision,” Climer plans to do “lots of listening and learning from the citizens of the community, who have entrusted these duties to me,” he said. “My role is to facilitate their development vision.”
Climer “will be the person that wakes up every day and asks himself how can he make West Point and Clay County a better place to live,” said Hodo. “Then he’ll go to work and do something about it.”
Climer, who is moving to West Point with his wife, Stacy, and their three school age daughters, is enthusiastic about the Growth Alliance working as a key component in a larger context. “One definite trend in economic development is greater regionalism, and I’m excited about working with our regional partners, both in the Golden Triangle specifically and in the East Central Mississippi area generally. We’re a vital part of a dynamic area and we look forward to being a part of it.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.