By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Christy Knapp, executive vice president of Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, will retire from the post at year’s end.
During her 13 years with EDF, Knapp has worked with Executive Director Max Hipp on economic development projects from one-person start-up businesses to the relocation of Winchester’s rimfire, centerfire and military packing operations to Oxford and the creation of a Toyota-related Japanese Saturday school.
“I love my job, and there’s no city I’d rather represent than Oxford,” she said. “Max and I work really well together, and we were able to accomplish a lot.”
Hipp said Knapp’s roles have been diverse.
“Christy has played a key role working with both school districts providing input as they develop curricula to help better prepare our young people for the workforce,” he said. “She has served on various committees and boards, including a term as president of the Mississippi Economic Development Council.
“Her job always requires a very broad knowledge of information, networks, protocol and the ability to respond quickly to changing situations and needs of the client … in a professional, positive manner.”
Knapp and her husband, Ron, moved to Oxford in 1999 when he bought an interest in a Batesville industry. While they lived in Houston, Texas, she had led community development activities with the Junior League. Her first work with the chamber was as a volunteer, and her first staff position was directing membership relations.
Despite the diversity of Oxford’s business community, Knapp is most gratified by the success of the community’s retiree attraction program. In recent years, national recognitions of Oxford’s quality of life for seniors have become almost routine, helping with other aspects of economic development as well.
“If it’s good enough to be a great retirement destination, it’s good enough to consider as a place to start a business or bring a business, because people will want to locate here,” she said. “The work I’ve done in retiree attraction highlights all that.”
Her own retirement will be a bittersweet experience, but Knapp said family matters, including aging parents in Texas and grandchildren in Illinois and Florida, make it a pressing issue. The timing of current EDF projects also makes it a good time to choose and train her successor.
“If I’m going to leave, this is probably the best timing,” she said. “This person won’t have the luxury of time (learning the job) the way I did. This person has to hit the ground running.”