Gray Swoope (pronounced SWOPE) brings more than 25 years of economic development experience to Florida as its new commerce secretary and president and CEO of its principal economic development organization, Enterprise Florida Inc. A public-private partnership, Enterprise Florida is Orlando-based, which means Swoope spends time there and at the Capitol, just two doors down from Governor Rick Scott. This proximity to the governor is vital to Swoope’s focus on job-creation, using business recruitment and expansion to improve economic growth and prosperity.
In 2007, Governor Haley Barbour named Swoope as Mississippi’s economic development chief by appointing him executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA). Swoope joined MDA in 2004 after working in economic development on the local, regional and state levels in Arkansas as well as Mississippi. He spent three years as MDA’s chief operating officer before serving as executive director. Notable accomplishments under his leadership included the recruitment of companies such as Toyota, GE Aviation and PACCAR, a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of trucks. These successes occurred because of the professionalism and effectiveness of the teams behind them, Swoope emphasizes.
Also among his career highlights are stints as president of Area Development Partnership (1997-2004) -- a private nonprofit that provides economic development and commerce services for the Hattiesburg, Miss. metropolitan area -- and division director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (1993-97) in Little Rock.
Swoope earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration – 1983 and 1991, respectively – at Mississippi State University. His honors include the university’s Central Mississippi Alumni chapter’s Alumnus of the Year Award, which he received in 2008.
No stranger to the Sunshine State, Swoope attended second grade in Fort Walton Beach, and he is a self-proclaimed frequent tourist of Florida’s beaches. His interest in space also brought him to Florida in 1998 to see a shuttle launch.