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2015 Directors
Wiley Blankenship
Alabama Director

Coastal Alabama Partnership
1 S. Royal Street, 2nd floor, P.O. Box 881
Mobile, AL 36601
Bus: (251) 436-8822

As President & CEO of Coastal Alabama Partnership, Wiley Blankenship brings vast experience in economic development, strategic planning and community project management to the newly formed alliance formed to address issues and opportunities for the Mobile and Baldwin counties.

Previously, Blankenship served as Director of the Center for International Business and Economic Development at Troy University. The Center provided economic development assistance through research and specialized technical support to both public and private economic development entities in Alabama. In addition, Blankenship oversaw the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which administered programs for the SBA for business startups. With his skills in research and data collection, he provided adroit analysis and evaluation of a wide range of community and economic development projects.


Joseph (Joey) Dean
Arkansas Director

Executive Director
Metro Little Rock Alliance
One Chamber Plaza
Little Rock, AR 72201
Bus: (501) 377-6006

Joey Dean graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in
Business Administration in May of 1991.  He began his career the summer of 1991 in the Washington, DC office of Senator Dale Bumpers.  What began as a summer internship evolved into a permanent position that kept him in D.C. for several years.  At the time he left Senator Bumpers office he was a Legislative Aide working on Energy, Environmental and Interior Issues. 

Upon returning to Arkansas, he began working at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) in January of 1996.
  In 2001, he was promoted to Director of Business Development for AEDC and served in that capacity for the next five years.

In July of 2006, he left AEDC to join the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce as Vice-President for Economic Development where is also serves as Executive Director for Metro Little Rock Alliance (MLRA).
  MLRA’s mission is to cultivate regional growth and prosperity throughout the area by marketing the region’s strengths and advantages to prospective companies and site location consultants for the purpose of attracting investment and creating jobs. 

In 2004, Joey was named by
Arkansas Business as one of the “40 under 40” top business leaders in Arkansas.  He was also named by Southern Business and Development as one of the “Top Ten People Who Made a Difference” in 2008.  He currently serves as President of the Arkansas Economic Developers (AED), is a graduate of Leadership Greater Little Rock and the Economic Development Institute (University of Oklahoma).   His peers at the Arkansas Economic Developers association awarded him the honor of   “Outstanding Economic Developer” for 2009.

Joey lives in Little Rock with his two daughters, Caroline and Mary Corinne.



Troy Post, CEcD
Florida Director

Troy Post, CEcD
North Brevard Economic Development Zone
Executive Director
400 South Street
Titusville, FL 32780
Bus: (321) 264-6750

Patrick (Pat) Topping, CEcD
Georgia Director

Senior Vice President
Macon Economic Development Commission
P.O. Box 169
Macon, GA, 31201
Bus: (478) 621-2030

Pat has been in the economic development industry since 1991. He has served as president of chambers in Milledgeville/Baldwin County, Georgia and Cumming/Forsyth County, Georgia. Currently he serves as the Senior Vice President for the Macon Economic Development Commission (MEDC) the private/public agency responsible for new business recruitment and existing business retention in Macon and Bibb County, Georgia. Pat served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) in 2009/2010, a member of the Executive Committee and continues as a member of the organization.   Pat has published economic development articles in trade publications including ED Review and has taught a section of the Development Authority Board Member Training course offered by UGA in addition to teaching part-time for over 20 years at Georgia College & State University and Macon State College in the Business and Marketing Department. Pat and his lovely wife, Shirley, are the proud parents of three young adults and two super grandsons.

Andrew Nave, CEcD
Kansas Director

Executive Director
Shawnee Economic Development Council
15100 W. 67th Street, #202
Shawnee, KS, 66217
Bus: (913) 631-6545

Andrew Nave, CEcD, has served in economic development for over ten years in both Kansas and Missouri. Currently as the Executive Director of the Shawnee (KS) Economic Development Council, the lead public-private partnership of the suburban Kansas City community of 67,000 population. Andrew leads all marketing, business attraction, retention & expansion, and real estate development activities for the city and EDC.





Charles (Chuck) Sexton
Kentucky Director

Project Manager
Greater Paducah Economic Development Council
300 South 3rd St., P.O. Box 1155
Paducah, KY 42002
Bus: (270) 575-6633




Gregg Gothreaux
Louisiana Director

President/ CEO
Lafayette Economic Development Authority
211 East Devalcourt Street
Lafayette, LA, 70506
Bus: (337) 593-1416

Gregg began his career as an economic developer with Gulf States Utilities in Lake Charles in the 1980s. In July 1995, Gregg was appointed President and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. In his nearly twenty years at LEDA, Gregg has contributed substantially to the economic growth and stability of Lafayette through the organization’s role in retaining and attracting some of the area’s most influential businesses. Gregg serves on the board of several organizations such as the Regions Bank Regional Advisory Board, Lafayette Central Park, Inc., the Southern Economic Development Council, and the Acadiana Economic Development Council. Gregg and his wife, Alisa, enjoy their job as parents to son, Conner Thomas, and daughter, Eliza Grace.  In addition to his hard work throughout the community, Gregg is proud to be recognized as a certified Louisiana Master Gardener. 

Jennifer Tanner
Maryland Director

Industrial Development Manager
CSX Transportation
4724 Hollins Ferry Rd
Baltmore, MD, 21227
Bus: (615) 627-8990,

Jennifer Tanner brings more than 20 years of experience in economic development and site selection- consulting projects to her role as Manager of Industrial Development at CSX Transportation.  Prior to joining CSX, Jennifer co-owned her own consulting business and was a Sr. Project Manager for CH2M Hill and Lockwood Greene Engineers. She is a certified Professional Community Economic Developer.  Jennifer has consulted with communities across the nation to improve their ability to compete for new and expanding business.  Currently, Jennifer is managing all new business projects for CSX in Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.  Jennifer earned her MBA from the University of Phoenix and her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Sandy Holifield
Mississippi Director

Economic Development Director
Economic Development Authority of Jones County
P. O. Box 527
Laurel, MS 39441
Bus: (601) 649-3031

I was hired by the Economic Development Authority of Jones County/Chamber of Commerce as an Administrative Assistant in 1990. In 1993 I was promoted to Director of the Jones County Chamber of Commerce. In 2000 I was promoted to the Coordinator of the Howard Technology Park. In 2002 I was promoted to Economic Development Director. I love the working at the EDA, no two days are alike. You never know what the next day will bring to our fabulous county!

I enjoy serving on several local Boards and Committees. I currently serve as a board member of MEDC-Mississippi Economic Development Council. I am a graduate of USM’s Mid South Economic Development Course and a graduate of Leadership Mississippi. In 2003 I was selected as one of MS Business Journal’s 50 Business Women of 2003.

My husband and I have one married son. We enjoy riding his Harley, watching sports, hunting and I love the beach.

Kevin Welch
Missouri Director

The Joplin Regional Partnership of SW MO & SE KS
320 East 4th Street
Joplin, MO 64801
Bus: (417) 624-4150,

Kevin is the Director of the Joplin Regional Partnership, which is a regional economic development organization that covers seven counties in three states. The Joplin Region encompasses 3 counties in Southwest Missouri, 3 counties in Southeast Kansas, and 1 county in Northeast Oklahoma. Kevin markets the Joplin, MO region to companies and site selectors evaluating locations for relocation or expansion. Kevin has been working in the economic development field for the last 13 years.

The Joplin Regional Partnership provides relocation or expansion assistance for a host of industries including Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, Food Processing, Warehousing/Distribution, Logistics, Transportation, Call Centers, Retail, & Medical.

Kevin attended the University of Missouri & Western Illinois University but is an avid Arkansas Razorback fan. He has also been the play-by-play voice for Joplin High School Athletics for the past 20 years.

Kevin lives in Joplin, MO with his wife Tracey and his 2 daughters Carly and Bailey.

Raul Peralta
North Carolina Director

Regional VP - Business Development
ECS Carolinas, LLP,
4811 Koger Boulevard
Greensboro, NC 27407  
Bus: (336) 856-7150


Michael (Mike) A. Southard, AICP, EDFP, PCED
Oklahoma Director

President & CEO
Ada Jobs Foundation
209 West Main Street
Ada, OK, 74820
Bus: (580) 235-0070

Michael Southard is the President and CEO of the Ada Jobs Foundation and the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce. He has also worked in Oklahoma City, Shawnee, and Muskogee. Mike is a graduate of The University of Oklahoma (Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Regional and City Planning) and a graduate of the OU Economic Development Institute. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional. He is the current President of the Oklahoma Professional Economic Development Council and Chair-elect of the Governor’s Economic Development Marketing Team. Mike is the past President of Oklahoma Southeast and the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Planning Association and he previously served on the AICP Commission as the Region 3 (Southeast US) Commissioner. He also serves on the Oklahoma State Chamber Board of Directors and on both The University of Oklahoma College of Architecture Board of Visitor and the division of Regional and City Planning BOV. Mike and his wife, Sheila, have two boys, Matthew and Jackson.

Will Williams, SCCED
South Carolina Director

Economic Development Partnership
PO Box 1708
Aiken, SC 29802
Bus: (803) 641-3300

Will Williams is a native of Georgetown South Carolina where he attended public school graduating from Georgetown High School in 1985. He graduated from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in May of 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Mr. Williams began his career in June 1989 with Burlington Industries in Raeford North Carolina as a Manufacturing Management trainee. In 2010 he returned to his economic development background by being named the Associate Director of The Economic Development Partnership that represents Aiken and Edgefield Counties. During his time at The Partnership he has been responsible for more than $1.4 billion in new capital investment and over 1000 new jobs to the region. Will is a member of The South Carolina Economic Developers Association, where he serves on the Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Southern Economic Development Council. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, Hitchcock Healthcare, Public Education Partners, Aiken Corporation, Aiken Technical College Foundation, and The SRS-Community Reuse Organization. He is a member of the Lower Savannah Council of Governments Workforce Investment Board. He is also a member of The Rotary Club of Aiken and a graduate of Leadership Aiken County.

G.C. Hixson, CEcD
Tennesee Director

Executive Director
JECDB of Wilson County
115 N Castle Heights Avenue, Suite 102
Lebanon, TN 37087
Bus: (615) 443-1210

G.C. Hixson serves as Executive Director of the Joint Economic & Community Development Board, JECDB of Wilson County, TN.  Prior to his selection he held multiple positions within the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development including the Director of Marketing where he was responsible for the department’s domestic marketing staff and programs. Since joining the JECDB the agency has been involved in the location of TACLE Seating, Kenwal Steel, Wilson Sporting Goods, ViJon, Permobil,  Leviton and the  Nissan and Amazon distribution and fulfillment centers   The JECDB also serves as the coordinating agency for both existing industry programs and retail development throughout Wilson County.

Frank McCrady
Texas Director

President/ CEO
East Montgomery County Improvement District
P.O. Box 1019
New Caney, TX 77357
Bus: (281) 354-4419

Frank McCrady is an active advocate for small business development issues. He is a former owner of several small businesses and understands the issues facing the small business owner today. He has received numerous awards and recognition on community issues and has been recognized by the Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce for his work with women owned businesses.

He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, and began his advanced coursework at Johns Hopkins University and completed his Masters at Webster University in St Louis. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and has completed additional coursework with the US Army War College and National Defense University. Currently he is doing research on regional and national economic development issues relating to his Doctoral work. Previously he has worked at Riggs National Bank in Washington D.C., served as Executive Director of Tulsa Economic Development Corporation and served as the Deputy Director for Community and Economic Development for Salt Lake City. His efforts included daily interaction on issues relating to the 2002 Winter Olympics in coordination and planning efforts with the city and select Olympic Committees.

Currently, Frank serves as President/CEO of the East Montgomery County Improvement District. He is married and has two boys 19 and 16 and a daughter 13 years old. He enjoys hunting, fishing, golf, all sports and numerous outdoor activities.

John Kilgore 
Virginia Director

Executive Director
Scott Co., VA Economic Development
180 West Jackson Street
Gate City VA 24251
Bus: (276) 386-2525

Robert (Robbie) Morris
West Virginia Director

Executive Director, Executive Director
Randolph C. Development Authority
10 Eleventh Street
Elkins, WV  26241
Bus: (304) 637-0803 

Robbie Morris is the Executive Director of the Randolph County Development Authority and West Virginia Wood Technology Center.  Mr. Morris is charged with business recruitment and retention, as well as workforce development efforts in Randolph County, West Virginia.  Mr. Morris was the Executive Director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce for two years prior to joining the RCDA in 2011. He is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he obtained undergraduate
degrees in political scienceand history, and a master’s degree in business administration. In addition to the RCDA, Mr. Morris is an adjunct professor of business for Pierpont Community & Technical College.  Mr. Morris serves on the boards of many financial and economic development organizations including Citizens Bank of West Virginia, Woodland’s Community Lenders, Central Appalachian Development Organization, West Virginia Economic Development Council, West Virginia Hardwood Alliance Zone, and the Corridor H Authority.  Mr. Morris is a 2009 graduate of the distinguished “Leadership West Virginia” program.