A recognized leader in economic development, Gray Swoope has served both the public and private sectors for more than three decades most recently as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce. He has held leadership roles for a variety of organizations, as well as managed successful economic development entities. His management style is described as focused and steadfast when it comes to solving problems and winning competitive projects. Gray is also known for building highly effective teams noted for their ability to devise and implement strategic plans, and to get results. His expertise is international in scope, with a proven track record of successfully conducting business abroad.
Gray served in Governor Rick Scott’s administration (2011-2015) as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of its principal economic development organization, Enterprise Florida, Inc. Under his leadership, Enterprise Florida completed a record fiscal year in 2013-14, and increased competitive projects by 40%, resulting in 73% more new jobs and 95% more capital investment in the state than in 2011.
During Gray’s tenure, Florida announced competitive project wins involving dozens of leading companies including Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Deutsche Bank, Embraer, GE, Hertz, Navy Federal Credit Union, Northrop Grumman, USAA, United Technology Corporation and Verizon. Since 2011 and in only 3 years, more than 728,000 private-sector jobs were added in Florida, surpassing Governor Scott’s goal of creating 700,000 private-sector jobs over 7 years.
Prior to his tenure in Florida, Gray served as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority under then Governor and current VisionFirst Advisors chairman, Haley Barbour.
During his tenure at the Mississippi Development Authority, Gray persuaded companies such as Toyota, PACCAR, GE Aviation and Severstal to build facilities in the state, resulting in a refocus of the state’s efforts to aggressively support industry retention and expansion. He also launched the Priority One Program targeting existing businesses, resulting in a measurable increase in jobs saved and/or created.
In addition, Gray worked with the legislature and the state’s private sector partner, Momentum Mississippi, to retool economic development incentives, thus laying the groundwork for significant new investment and expansion opportunities. Throughout his service at the MDA, Gray created a team that is recognized by site selection consultants and businesses alike as one of the most responsive state economic development teams in the nation.
Gray earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Mississippi State University.
*Please note, when we interviewed Gray, he was in his final days at Enterprise Florida. Today, Gray serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of VisionFirst Advisors.