Blake Wallace, Executive Director-Hinds Economic Development
The Rotary Club of Jackson was pleased to welcome Blake Wallace, Executive Director, Hinds County Economic Development Authority. 
 
The invocation was given by Allan Cole, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Yolanda Singleton and the Four-Way Test was led by President Janet Scott.  Seated at the head table included, Vivian Gibson, Circle of Hope Ministries for Depression Awareness; Erica Thompson, Magnolia Medical Foundation; Phillip Carpenter, Carpenter Properties, Blake Wallace, Hinds County Economic Development Authority and LeRoy Walker, LTM Enterprises, who introduced our speaker.
 
Tara Clark welcomed our visiting Rotarians and guests.
 
Jared Acy announced a few more openings for the Salvation Army Bell Ringing Campaign.  The RCJ will be ringing the Bell from 10a-7pm at the Kroger on I-55, December 12, 2019.  If you have not signed up, contact Jared at jacy@was-design.com.
 
Erica Reed announced the Nursing Home visits and showed the quilts that are being handed out to residents.  The Committee will visit Manhattan and Lakeland Care facilities today beginning at 10am.  If you are interested in participating please contact Erica Reed (ejohnson@jacksonmedicalmall.org ) or Primus Wheeler (pwheeler@jacksonmedicalmall.org ).
 
The RCJ was pleased to welcome Vivian Gibson, Circle of Hope Ministries for Depression Awareness, who spoke briefly about depression awareness, specifically during the holidays.  More information about her organization can be found at circleofhopedepressionawareness.org.
 
LeRoy Walker introduced our speaker, Blake Wallace.  Serving as executive director since 2006, Blake is a hands-on leader with over 30 years of experience in business attraction, business retention and expansion, workforce development and retail development. He also leverages his skills in marketing, strategic planning, project management and technology utilization to foster new economic opportunities for Hinds County. His professional certifications include Certified Economic and Community Developer (CEcD) and Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP). Blake is the chair of the Membership Development Advisory Committee for the International Economic Development Council, serves as a member of the Mississippi District Export Council Board of Directors and is a past member of the Board of Directors for both the Southern Economic Development Council and the Mississippi Economic Development Council. His educational credentials include a Bachelor of Science degree in American Studies and a Master of Science degree in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Business Administration degree from Belhaven University where he serves as an adjunct instructor.
 
Although the RCJ heard from the Continental Tire team last week, Blake elaborated on the relationship with Continental, the growth in Hinds County and possible expansions in the coming years.  Blake highlighted opportunities for surrounding counties, specifically the workforce.  The unemployment rate in Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties are nearing all-time lows which creates a deficit in a skilled workforce.  The current challenge for bringing new industry into the area is the availability of labor. Blake showed several slides showing the current trends in the surrounding counties regarding the labor force.