Jim Comptons new role as Area Development Partnership board chairman may demand his loyalties be with the Greater Hattiesburg area, but his Biloxi roots and business sense keeps South Mississippi as well as the entire state on his radar.
Compton, the general manager and CEO of South Mississippi Electric since 2004, formerly practiced law in Biloxi and still owns a home there.
Were interested in growing the entire state, said Compton, who was elected as board chairman in December. While we all have frictions, we all realize the regional approach is the best path forward in getting real results.
As chairman of the ADP, Compton will oversee all functions of the organization, which serves as the regional chamber of commerce, community development and economic development agency for Greater Hattiesburg, encompassing Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties.
His priorities include improving the staffing and budget of the ADP, which now includes nine full-time and three part-time employees with an operational budget of $1.3 million.
He said he wants to improve the manufacturing component in Greater Hattiesburg. Its not as strong as Jackson County or Hancock County, but its there. Were in the hunt for spinoffs from the automobile or aerospace industries down the road.
Compton has a handful of aces to deal a successful mix of geographic resources and already established infrastructure that has proven inviting for any new business.
Some studies say the most attractive place to live is a small city that is a university town, he said. We have two University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. We have all the cultural, educational and athletic amenities for a high quality of life and a student population that brings a strong workforce.
In addition to the universities, there is a community college presence that helps support the strong healthcare industry. The military presence provided by Camp Shelby also adds to the industrial base.
We also have a strong retail base, Compton said. Hattiesburg is the centerpiece in a 14-county area for retail.
While he wasnt free to indentify specific industries being sought, he said the new Eagle One Forrest-Lamar Mega Site South Mississippis first mega site is a step in the right direction.
The site, located between Hattiesburg and Purvis, features 2,222 available acres for industrial development and is adjacent to Interstate 59 and highways 11 and 98.
Added Compton: My goal is to maximize the potential of South Mississippi and to be sure in terms of recruiting industries that we are competitive and put a product out there in workforce locations to achieve the best results.