Jonesboro Unlimited’s Vice President Mike Downing has been hired as the city of Jonesboro’s new chief of staff. Downing, who previously led one of the nation’s elite economic development organizations at the Missouri state capital, will oversee 15 city departmental directors – all divisions other than fire and police. He will join the city June 3.
Downing will replace Bill Reznicek, who resigned in May due to a family illness. His salary for his new job will be $97,000, city Communications Director Bill Campbell told Talk Business & Politics.
“Mike led a cabinet-level position with the State of Missouri, managing 700-plus employees and a $350 million budget,” Jonesboro Mayor Harold 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.”
Under his leadership, Missouri was selected as the top 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.”
JU is already searching for Downing’s replacement.
“We have already started the process to find a new V.P. for Jonesboro Unlimited. We wish Mike Downing all the best as he assumes the duties of Chief of Staff for the City of Jonesboro. We know Mike will do a great job serving the citizens of Jonesboro,” Young added.
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 while Reznicek was on medical leave and after he resigned.
“Roy has been an important contributor to this administration and continues to be,” Perrin said. “I am forever grateful for his service.”