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Main Street’s business recruiter heading to Arkansas

[8/26/04]Bob Ward, the first economic development coordinator hired for the Vicksburg Main Street program, will finish his last day here today and head to a similar program in Arkansas.

Ward was hired two years ago, shortly after the leadership of Vicksburg Main Street voted to hire a full-time person to be in charge of recruiting businesses to downtown Vicksburg.

Rosalie Theobald is director of the promotional organization funded by a separate tax on downtown-area property.

Ward said he is taking the post of executive director of the Main Street Program in Paragould, Ark., an old railroad town in the northeastern part of the state.

Before he took the job in Vicksburg, Ward was in private business in Jackson.

“I think it is going to be a wonderful experience,” Ward said.

“We are sorry to see him leave,” Theobald said. “But you have to wish someone well when they try to do something for themselves.”

When Ward was hired at a salary of $40,000 per year, the emphasis was on bringing new retail businesses and attracting people to develop second-floor housing to downtown Vicksburg, said Harry Sharp, Main Street president. But, he said, the emphasis is changing.

“A number of the inquiries he would receive every month would not fit with downtown,” Sharp said, explaining that when a successor is hired, the emphasis will be broader recruiting, including Pemberton Square mall, Vicksburg Factory Outlets, the two entrance corridors leading to downtown and the entire county.

All in all, Sharp said, Ward “did a great job” for Main Street and Vicksburg during his tenure here.

Sharp said the post will be filled by a person selected by the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Vicksburg, hopefully within the next couple of months.