Jackson State University professor elected president of Hinds County Economic Development Authority for 2022-2023

(Jackson, Miss) — Jackson State University professor and author Hilliard Lackey, Ph.D., was elected president of the Hinds County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) for the 2022-2023 term.

HCEDA is the economic development organization created by House Bill 1687, specializing in recruiting and retaining businesses in Hinds County. Lackey’s presidency was a natural succession as a member of the Board of Trustees for three and a half years.

“Well, the way the hierarchy goes, the presidency was in my future because I had held my third position, which usually evolves into the presidency. So for the last three years, I was getting ready to be president,” said Lackey, who holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, a master of educational administration and supervision, and a specialist in educational administration from Jackson State University. He also has a doctoral degree in higher education administration from the University of Mississippi.

Since 1961, Lackey has been a resident of Hinds County and has worked at JSU for over 40 years. The professor said he took the opportunity with HCEDA to serve his community. He believes that Hinds County and the state of Mississippi are uniquely positioned to attract business.

“Mississippi as a state is user-friendly in terms of the workforce. And one of the things that are really hard on the American workforce right now is attendance and going to work every day. Mississippians have a better feel for going to work here. They’re more likely to go to work,” Lackey said.

Recruiting large companies is a point of emphasis in bringing new business to the county. Continental Tires has provided Mississippians with ample employment opportunities. Lackey explained that HCEDA hopes to achieve the same thing with another big market name.

“The big thing always is to bring in some businesses that are difference makers. In our case, we brought in Continental Tires a few years ago. Even if we had a dome stadium here in Jackson, it would be a difference-maker. They would make some things happen here that we couldn’t do before,” explained Lackey.

Although recruiting business is lucrative to the county, one of the most important goals for the HCEDA is to retain all of the businesses in Hinds County despite an array of setbacks, including Jackson’s recent water crisis.

“We want to be business friendly. We don’t want businesses to be rushed to work, and I say, adversely affected by anything other than the natural things we can’t control, like the recent water woes we have had. We are just doing our best to help businesses to overcome those situations,” he said.

The way the process works with assisting businesses in the county is on a voluntary basis. HCEDA reaches out to the companies in the area, while others reach out to them for assistance. They usually connect them with the necessary departments to help. The sanitation department is one of the few that they have used several times.

“Their relationship with us is all voluntary on both sides. Our mission is to help them, but there’s no formal thing that would tie them to an obligation. We are always looking for a way to help. They may or may not look to us for anything, but we are there to serve them,” Lackey said.

Consistency is the word driving Lackey and HCEDA this upcoming year. Whether recruiting or retaining businesses, he said they hope to provide consistent results and success to Hinds County.