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LINK hires former MDA CFO to represent Oktibbeha County economic development interests

January 24, 2013

Local developers say they have found the right person — a proven businessman with Mississippi State University ties — to represent the county in future economic endeavors.

Joseph Deason, a former Mississippi Development Authority chief financial officer and industry CEO, will represent Oktibbeha County interests and serve as a Golden Triangle Development LINK vice president, LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins announced Thursday. He will also serve as the LINK’s chief operating officer.

Higgins said Deason officially starts Feb. 1. Deason agreed to an offer in principle, but Higgins did not disclose salary and contract details.

The LINK’s search process looked for candidates to solicit industries for the county, develop expansion and retention opportunities, work with state and regional economic development agencies and serve as a project manager to ensure client needs are met through all stages of business attraction. Deason will also handle legislation pertaining to the regional development initiative and assist in financial packages.

“Starkville has grown so positively over the past decades. I’m excited to be part of the community,” Deason said. “The key part of economic development is the community itself. Economic development itself is not one person or entity, it’s the community.

“The core for success is here — the university, the infrastructure system and the community,” he added. “We’ve just got to put ourselves out there, be aggressive, do our due diligence and be passionate. If we don’t do that, then no one else will be passionate about Starkville, Oktibbeha County or the Golden Triangle.”

Higgins told the GSDP board Deason’s day-one projects with the LINK include dealing with vacant buildings, analyzing Oktibbeha County industrial sites — including Cornerstone Park and the Starkville Industrial Park — and visits to MDA.

“We are thrilled to add Joey to the LINK team,” Higgins said. “We’ve recruited the very best in staff and consultants, and we are hitting the ground running.”

Deason, an MSU alumn, oversaw and managed eight division within MDA, including community services, stimulus funding, financial resources, human resources, accounting, legal resources, site/facility management and information and technology from 2006-2010.

While at MDA, he helped entice major companies — Toyota, General Electric, PACCAR and Severstal — to invest approximately $2.4 billion and create 3,500 jobs.

Most recently, Deason served as president and CEO of Schulz Xtruded Products, the Tunica-based division of Wilh. Schulz GMBH, based in Krefeld, Germany, which serves oil, gas, nuclear, solar and aerospace industries with stainless steel piping and extruded profiles.

Previously, he spent 17 years with General Motors and the Delphi Corporation in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Michigan, serving as Mercedes financial director, global financial accounting manager and Southeast financial manager of Southeast operations.

In December, Higgins said four finalists emerged from his organization’s vice president/chief Oktibbeha County representative search. When introducing Deason to the GSDP Board of Trustees, Higgins said he knew Deason was the right person for the job immediately following his interview.

Deason’s hire follows four other local additions to the LINK Board of Trustees last year. In November, the LINK announced GSDP Board President Steve Langston and Coldwell Banker Associate Broker Michelle Amos will join the organization’s executive board, while both, Cadence Bank CAO Mark Abernathy and retired businessperson Zelma Talley will serve on the LINK’s general board of directors.

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