Heath Barret, who led the Greater Starkville Development Partnership on an interim basis as it searched for a new chief executive officer, will step down from his role as its director of membership development July 26.
Barret is concluding an almost four-year stint with the Partnership to pursue other opportunities.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership and with the board of directors, Committee of 100, the Ambassadors and, most importantly, the staff of the GSDP,” he said in a press release. “I hope that chamber members of the GSDP and Starkville community will continue to support the organization. It’s absolutely vital to Starkville and Oktibbeha County. I am very thankful for the opportunity I was given in 2013 to work at the GSDP.”
Barret did not elaborate on those opportunities Tuesday but said the GSDP’s strong staff will effectively continue its mission of community and economic development.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at the Partnership, and I know this place is in good hands with (incoming Chief Executive Officer) Scott Maynard, (interim Vice President for Tourism) Jennifer Prather and (administrative assistant) Brittney Young,” he said.
Barret came to the Partnership after working for at Mississippi State for seven years. He was named interim CEO last year after Jennifer Gregory resigned her post.
“Heath has been a valuable team member for the Partnership since joining us, and we’re disappointed to see him go,” said GSDP Board of Directors Chairman Michelle Amos in the release. “Membership is at an all-time high, and Heath has been an instrumental part of that growth. We truly wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
Maynard, who officially starts his job Monday, wished Barrett and his family the best as he pursues his other opportunities.
Including Barret’s and Gregory’s departures, the Partnership has now seen three key staff members leave since last year. Former business manager Shelby Stevenson also left in 2016 for a new job.
While searching for a new CEO, the board of directors created a vice president for tourism position that is expected to absorb some of the roles Gregory previously handled. Prather, who was serving as the Partnership’s special events coordinator and Starkville Community Market manager, was given the position on an interim basis in April.
Sources close to the CEO search said Barret applied for the position and was a candidate for the job until the Partnership board restarted the search process and hired an outside firm to assist.
Barret never confirmed his status as a candidate.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch