By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. took over Thursday as chair of the Mississippi Economic Council, becoming the first elected official to lead the state’s chamber of commerce.
“We have been driven by public-private partnerships so we view this as a plus,” said MEC President Blake Wilson.
Reed assumed his new duties at the MEC’s annual meeting, which attracted about 1,900 business people from around the state.
As chair, Reed follows in the footsteps of his father, Jack Reed Sr., who led the organization in the turbulent 1960s. The Tupelo businessman used his statewide position to speak out against the extreme elements fighting against integration, especially of the public schools.
Reed said he saw during his father’s tenure how the MEC could be a voice of “reason and morality.”
“At our best,” Reed said, “MEC is the powerful voice of business as we work to provide jobs…and is an enlightened connection of civic-minded citizens.”
Reed Sr., 85, attended Thursday’s meeting, which highlighted the state’s music heritage and its potential for economic development.
“I am proud of Jack, and I am proud of the organization,” the elder Reed said. “I think it is about as good a organization as there is in the state.”
It was by happenstance that Reed became the first elected official to serve as MEC chair. As president of R.W. Reed Co., he already was in line for the chairmanship before he decided to run for mayor in 2008.
He was supposed to assume the role last year, but asked for a year’s delay to allow him to settle in to his new post as mayor.
Reed, 58, said he discussed with members of the MEC nominating committee whether they still wanted him to serve as chair after he entered the political fray.
“With his leadership, MEC will forge an even greater public-private partnership approach,” said Mayo Flint, AT&T Mississippi president and outgoing MEC chair.
The business group has traditionally been involved in issues that have a positive impact on the state’s progress.
Reed said he hopes to continue recent efforts of MEC to improve early childhood education opportunities; wants the state’s different regions to work together; and to use the state’s unique musical heritage to create jobs.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.