Heidel to leave Jackson post

Published 9:58 pm Saturday, September 8, 2007

Jimmy Heidel, citing health reasons, has announced he will leave his job as economic development consultant for the city of Jackson at the end of the month.

Heidel, who served as Mississippi’s top economic developer during the two terms of Gov. Kirk Fordice’s administration, said Thursday that he will continue to work part time on some projects.

Since starting work nearly two years ago, Heidel, 63, has helped assemble grant packages and infrastructure deals and has been the chief negotiator between the city and developers.

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Heidel, who also headed up economic development programs in Vicksburg and Warren County, said he suffered a stroke in November.

“Doctors say it takes about a year to fully recover. I’ve got some problems, but I don’t want to make a big deal out of them. I’m going to be fine. I just want to be able to see my grandchildren grow up,” Heidel said.

Former Mississippi Development Authority Director Leland Speed agreed earlier this year to come on as a volunteer consultant.

Among several projects, Heidel said he wants to finish out the department’s efforts toward a tax-increment financing deal to support Old Capitol Green and wants to secure a federal Housing and Urban Development loan for the $208 million Convention Center hotel and mixed-use development.

“I feel like the projects I’ve helped to get going are right on the edge of sparking revitalization in Jackson,” he said.