Ashley Edwards to head Gulf Coast Business Council


Ashley Edwards, who has served as CEO of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission since 2013, will become the new president of the Gulf Coast Business Council effective Dec. 1.

Ron Peresich, chairman of the Business Council, said current president Jack Norris will leave in the next 30 days to go into private business.

"Jack has done an outstanding job as our president, and while we are sorry to see him leave, we wish him well in this new opportunity," Peresich said.

Edwards will become the third director of the organization that gave Coast businesses a unified voice following Hurricane Katrina. Among the accomplishments of the group are working to control insurance rates following the storm and helping create Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast to promote tourism across the three counties.

Peresich said, "Ashley has outstanding credentials in economic policy, both through formal education as well as his work with the state and local governments. He has also served several years with the Barbour and the Bryant administration on governmental policy matters involving the Gulf Coast and the entire State of Mississippi."

Edwards was a member of former Gov. Haley Barbour's senior staff for six years and worked as deputy director of Barbour's Office of Recovery and Renewal. He also was executive director of Gov. Phil Bryant's Office of Recovery.

A native of Petal, he has a Bachelor's degree from Tulane University and a Master's degree in economic development from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he received the Outstanding Master of Science in Economic Development Graduate Award.

This year, he led efforts that resulted in the expansion of DAK Americas in Hancock County, creating 86 additional jobs. In 2014, Edwards he was instrumental of bringing Jindal Tubular ASA's pipe manufacturing facility to Port Bienville, a $110 million capital investment.