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Louisiana economic developer taking helm in Starkville

The Greater Starkville Development Partnership (GSDP) has found its new leader. Jon Maynard, currently vice president of business development at the Northwest Louisiana Economic Development Foundation (NLEDF), will take the helm as GSDP’s president and CEO October 1.

“The Partnership’s goal of finding the right person for our community at this time has been successfully met,” said GSDP chairman Terry Kemp. “We are excited about Jon Maynard’s leadership abilities, his enthusiasm and his progressive approach to quality growth.”

Maynard’s résumé is an interesting one. The son of an Army officer, Maynard was born in Georgia, but relocated often. Upon his father’s retirement, Maynard moved to Natchitoches, La., his parents’ birthplace.

Maynard’s father took over a movie theater business, Don Theaters Inc., and ran it while Maynard attended high school and college. After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Maynard took over the family business. For 11 years, Maynard served as president and CEO of Don Theaters.

In 1999, Maynard sold the theaters, went to work for a printing and office supply company with the intention of acquiring it and, when that did not happen, opened a mortgage lending business in Natchitoches in 2002. Two years later, he joined First Federal Bank of Louisiana.

Not content with his career, Maynard looked to an area that he had been serving pro bono.

“Discovering that the banking world was not my style, I left in June of 2006,” Maynard said. “Having worked in chamber of commerce and economic development activities as a volunteer for nearly 15 years, I decided to pursue it full time as a professional. I can’t think of anything more fun or interesting to do for a living.”

Attractive horizons

Maynard said he was initially attracted to the GSDP because it would be a great career booster. However, his reasons for coming changed when he got to Starkville

“That initial attraction faded quickly when I met the individuals committed to the Partnership as well as the opportunity to make a difference for a community that is so loved by its citizens,” he said. “Starkville is a place that has enough potential to become attractive worldwide as the next great place to live. Mississippi State and the economic development efforts there with research and development of new and relevant technologies are unmatched by anything that I have read about or seen anywhere else.”

Maynard said his primary goal is to develop the GSDP as a leader in regional economic development, which he has experience in from his years at the NLEDF. However, Maynard made it clear that he could not accomplish this alone.

“I plan to work cooperatively with the neighboring communities in all of Northeast Mississippi to create a broader target for new business as well as a more positive climate for our existing businesses,” he said. “That sort of regionalism is the key to real and sustainable growth.

“A secondary goal is to develop the same sort of positive relationships outside of our region so that the world knows all about the Golden Triangle and what we have to offer. The folks who hired me spent a lot of time creating a needs assessment to decide exactly what they wanted in a CEO of the partnership, and regionalism and positive resource management and marketing were the key factors in finding the right person.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com.

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