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Mike Downing, who led one of the nation’s elite economic development organizations at the Missouri state capital, has been hired by Mayor Harold Perrin as the City of Jonesboro’s chief of staff.
Downing, vice president of Jonesboro Unlimited, will oversee 15 city departmental directors – all divisions other than fire and police. He will join the City on June 3.
“Mike led a cabinet-level position with the State of Missouri, managing 700-plus employees and a $350 million budget,” Perrin said. “He worked for eight governors, and during his time in Jonesboro has illustrated to me that he understands leadership and networking at all levels of government.
“There are precious few people with his type of background, and I am thrilled to have him join our administration.”
Missouri was selected the No. 1 economic development organization in the nation in 2014 by Pollina Corporate Real Estate, a global firm that studies trends in economic conditions. For more than a year Downing has worked for Jonesboro Unlimited to develop and recruit opportunities for businesses to locate in Jonesboro.
He served as chair of the ASU to Downtown Corridor Committee last year that proposed best uses for property and neighborhoods connecting the university with downtown, including the bicycle-pedestrian project that has already secured $500,000 in grant funding.
"We appreciate the work Mike has done for Jonesboro Unlimited,” JU and Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce President Mark Young said. “He has a passion for the community and seeing it continue to grow and improve. He will be a tremendous asset to the City of Jonesboro."
Downing is a Bragg City, Missouri, native and Arkansas State University graduate who was the placekicker on ASU’s 1975 national championship football team. He earned bachelors’ degrees in business administration and recreation, health and physical education at ASU. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri.
“I love Jonesboro and have for many years,” Downing said. “I am excited about this role and the opportunity to help Mayor Perrin in providing our dedicated department leaders and staff with all the tools they need to keep our city going strong.”
Downing replaces Roy Ockert, the retired editor of The Sun whose broad administrative knowledge has allowed him to serve interim terms as chief of staff, chief operations officer and director of communications.
“Roy has been an important contributor to this administration and continues to be,” Perrin said. “I am forever grateful for his service.”
Downing is married to the former Donna Waddell, a Jonesboro native, and they have two adult children and one grandchild.