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franklin county times

FCDA director takes new job

MItch Mays
MItch Mays

Since 2005, Mitch Mays has led economic development in Franklin County. Now, however, Mays has taken on a new endeavor.

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority has hired Mays as its administrator.

As administrator of the waterway authority, Mays will also serve as president of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Council, a not-for-profit trade association the authority established in1985 to represent the myriad interests in the waterway and its potential benefits.

Mays said the decision to leave Franklin County was necessary but not easy.

“It was a hard decision to make, but at the same time, when a new opportunity comes along, sometimes you just have to move on,” Mays said.

The FCDA has come a long way since Mays started, when the department had few resources – not even a facility. He first worked out of office space in the Todd Center and then the Chamber of Commerce before the development authority established its own location.

“We’ve worked to help a lot of businesses expand in Franklin county,” Mays said. “When I got here, there was one industrial park. Now we have industrial parks throughout the county.”

Mays also touted the job creation that has taken place, contributing to Franklin County’s low unemployment rate. “I’m proud to have been a small part of that,” he said.

Mays named the locating of Mar Jac and Southern Homes in Franklin County as particularly proud achievements.

Mays has known members of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority for years and was intrigued when they asked if he would be interested in talking. Ultimately he opted to make this move.

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority is a congressionally-authorized interstate compact established to promote the development of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Its members are the states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. The governors, along with five appointees from each of the four states, constitute the governing board of the compact.

Prior to serving as the executive director of the Franklin County Development Authority, he was project manager for the Talladega County Economic Development Authority for five years. He is a retired veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the Alabama Air National Guard, where he received numerous citations and awards for his outstanding service to the nation.

His academic background includes degrees from Wesley College in Delaware and William Carey College in Mississippi, as well as professional-related education from the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma and similar courses at Georgia Tech. He is married to Melissa Mays, who is a nursing school instructor. They have two children.

Vice-chairman of the authority Jason Rich said they are pleased to welcome Mitch to the authority. “We have known Mitch for several years and have admired the outstanding work he has accomplished for Franklin County,” Rich said. “Working closely with the members of the authority and those of the council, his talents and experience will help realize the many economic benefits and improved quality of life the Tenn-Tom offers our region and its citizens.”

From Mays’ perspective, continued economic growth in Franklin County will depend upon two things: continued and increased support for the FCDA from the county commission and the community, as well as an established incentive program for attracting industries. He had this advice for his successor:

“Be prepared to get to know the board and elected officials. Find out what their expectations are so you can meet them.”

Mays will officially begin in his new role in June. In the interim, Sherye Price will continue operations as the FCDA Board of Directors seeks out a replacement for Mays.