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Monday, May 22, 2006                    



           (Jackson, Mississippi) – Governor Haley Barbour is sending Mississippi Development Authority Deputy Director Bill Crawford back to Meridian to lead a new $15 million Alabama-Mississippi WIRED grant project. 

“Bill has done a fine job as deputy director at MDA and I appreciate his service,” Governor Barbour said. “This new project has the potential to transform workforce and economic development in East Mississippi and West Alabama, and Bill’s experience in the region and proven leadership skills make him the right person for this important assignment.” 

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and Alabama Governor Bob Riley previously announced they had signed a joint memorandum of understanding activating the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant that will benefit 36 counties in the two states. The memorandum divides responsibilities for the grant, with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs serving as the fiscal agent and the Meridian-based Montgomery Institute designated as managing partner.

Governor Barbour designated Crawford as project director and Governor Riley will designate the associate director. Crawford will work from offices at The Montgomery Institute starting June 1, 2006.

"I appreciate Governor Barbour's confidence in me, and I renew the commitment I made to him two years ago-to do my very best to make a positive difference for the citizens we serve,” Bill Crawford said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our East Mississippi and West Alabama region."

MDA Executive Director Leland Speed said Crawford will continue to represent Governor Barbour on the Appalachian Regional Commission, handle MDA relations with the Mississippi Military Communities Council and State Port Authority, and be a valuable member of MDA’s team.

To represent Mississippi on the commission that will provide strategic oversight to the WIRED grant, Governor Barbour has appointed Meridian businessman Tommy Dulaney, president of Structural Steel Services, Inc.; Wade Jones, president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation; C.D. Smith, regional manager of BellSouth; and Dr. Wayne Stonecypher, executive director of the Mississippi State Board for Community and Junior Colleges. The commission also includes four members from Alabama plus the president of The Montgomery Institute, Dr. Bill Scaggs.

“The goal of the WIRED initiative is to transform regional economies,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao when she announced the Mississippi-Alabama proposal as one of 13 winners.