In his current role as executive vice president of economic development at the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg, Todd Jackson is responsible for supporting the recruitment of new investments and jobs to the Greater Hattiesburg area, working with existing employers on growth, and working with private sector businesses and local entities of government on economic development issues.
But with the recent resignation of Valencia Williamson – who on June 26 will leave to serve as the president and CEO of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce in Jonesboro, Georgia – Jackson will receive a promotion that will see him taking over Williamson’s duties in addition to his current ones.
“We’re basically combining mine and Valencia’s roles into one, so it’ll be a challenge,” Jackson said. “I am super excited because I love this community, I love this organization. Our organization has a great leader in our president (Chad Newell) and a great set of leaders in our executive committee.
“So I’m super excited to continue to do good work here in this community, and the reason this is possible is because of the great staff that we have at the ADP. There are a lot of talented people on that staff that will all be filling the big shoes that Valencia Williamson will be leaving behind.”
Before coming to the ADP, Jackson spent seven years in engineering for GE Plastics in New York, Indiana and Alabama as part of GE’s Operations Management and Leadership Program. A native of Poplarville, he is a 2004 graduate of Mississippi State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.
Jackson started with the ADP in September 2014 as a project manager. He was soon promoted to business development director, before being promoted to vice president and executive vice president over economic development.
In his new role – in addition to his current duties – Jackson will lead a four-person staff on the chamber of commerce side.
Some of his responsibilities will include membership recruitment and development, retention, marketing and communications, events, retiree and physician recruitment, and coordinating the ADP’s leadership and professional development programs.
“So we’ve got our work cut out for us, but I believe that we have the staff in order to accomplish that, so we’re excited to move forward,” Jackson said. “As funny as this may sound, I’m most looking forward to helping grow our people on our team.
“We have a very talented staff, and I’m looking forward to helping each of them grow, because each of us are going to have to step up and assume new responsibilities and new tasks that maybe we haven’t done before. So it’s a great opportunity for everyone in our organization to really shine.”
Before joining the ADP in 2010, Williamson served as vice president at Walton Area Chamber of Commerce in Santa Rosa Beach, California. She graduated from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and has 14 years in the chamber of commerce industry.
“The decision to leave certainly didn’t come easily and I gave it careful consideration, as my time here in Hattiesburg has been an incredible journey,” Williamson said. “I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity I was given to serve this business community for the last 10 years. My next chapter will be just as much about my professional career as it is focused on achieving personal goals, and I’m excited about the days ahead.”
Williamson said her favorite part of her tenure with the ADP is the people in the organization that have impacted her during her years there.
“Chad Newell has been a wonderful leader, coach, mentor and friend,” she said. “Also, my fellow ADP team members of both present and past.
“The organization has been fortunate to have these wonderfully talented and creative individuals who could thrive in any city around the nation, but choose to serve their community to make it a better place. And then there are our members ... I won't begin naming people because I'll surely miss someone, but I feel as though I've developed a special relationship with everyone, so it's been very hard for me to say goodbye.”