Last week, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors hired former Hancock County Supervisor Blaine LaFontaine as the county's first economic development director, effective Jan. 1.

LaFontaine's tenure as District 3 supervisor ended Dec. 31, 2019.

Pearl River County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said that in 2018, the board created a five-member economic development board to seek out a person who would be the right fit for the county.

One of the top priorities for the board going into the new term was to hire someone for the position, Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin said that LaFontaine came "highly" recommended.

In addition to serving as the Hancock County Board of Supervisors president, LaFontaine also served as a councilman for the city of Diamondhead from 2013 to 2015.

He also served on the Hancock County Utility Authority, the Hancock County Regional Solid Waste Authority, the South Mississippi Twin Districts Workforce Area, and the Mississippi Sound Coalition.

LaFontaine holds a Masters of Science in economic development and a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering technology, both from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Lumpkin said one of the first things that LaFontaine will be working on is spending time identifying what's available for marketing in Pearl River County, which will include contacting state leaders and "chasing every opportunity to bring the jobs to the county."

LaFontaine said some of his first goals include establishing foundation and focus; working on a long-term plan for the assets Pearl River County has to offer; workforce development; business expansion; and infrastructure planning,

LaFontaine said that he will also act as a liaison between government and industry.

LaFontaine said that he has always had a passion for economic development and is looking forward to establishing that foundation in Pearl River County.

"It was too good to pass up," he said. "I felt strongly about the board and helping the community grow and prosper."

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