Bryant expected to name new MDA head today

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to announce a new top economic developer for the state today.
The announcement is expected to take place at an economic development session that the governor will host at Jackson hotel with many of the state’s top business leaders.
When Bryant took office in January, he named Jim Barksdale, former Netscape chief executive officer, to serve as executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority to help chart a new course for the agency and to help look for a permanent executive director.
It is not clear what role Barksdale will play with MDA, if any, after Bryant’s announcement today. Barksdale has worked for $1 per year.
A bill the Legislature passed this year caps the director’s pay at 150 percent of the governor’s salary (or $180,000 annually), plus the person holding the position could receive an uncapped supplement from private or federal sources. The people or business entities contributing to the supplement would be posted on a Web page.
A similar supplement was paid during the tenure of former Gov. Kirk Fordice, but not during the administrations of Ronnie Musgrove or Haley Barbour.
There had been speculation that David Rumbarger, chief executive officer of the Lee County-based Community Development Foundation, was a leading candidate for the position. But various sources have indicated that Rumbarger was not interested in the state job.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com