The Jackson County Economic Development Foundation staff is committed to creating jobs, generating capital investment, increasing the quality of life in this area, and diversifying industry.

staff-freeland George L. Freeland, Jr.
Executive Director

George L. Freeland, Jr., has led the JCEDF since March 2001.  Under his leadership, the Foundation and its member partners have lead the creation of over 2,500 direct new jobs and have generated over two billion dollars of new capital investments.  The diverse range of companies and related sectors recruited include:  aerospace industries (Northrop Grumman Aerospace Unmanned Systems Center); energy based companies (Gulf LNG, BP, and Chevron); advanced shipbuilding and propulsion systems (Rolls Royce Naval Marine); construction components (Tindall Corp.); and, homeland security technology.

He is a graduate of Auburn University where he earned both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Public Administration, Economic Development, and Community Development.

The Journal of South Mississippi Business and the Mississippi Sun Herald have recognized Freeland as a Top Business Leader on the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi Business Journal recognized him as one of the State’s Top Forty Under 40 Business Leaders.  George has earned the prestigious Certified Professional Economic Developer and Economic Development Finance Professional designations, and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma. 

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 8.42.01 AM 

Christine Lusteck Pate
Deputy Director

Christine manages business and industry recruitment and expansion activities for JCEDF. In this role, she coordinates closely with several key Foundation partners and maintains close working relationships with numerous organizations critical to the county’s business and economic development efforts, including site selection consultants, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), real estate developers, and utilities.

Previously, Christine worked at MDA for the past eight years, where she specialized in grant funding and management, business recruitment, and existing industry expansion. She was instrumental in facilitating a number of industry expansions and new project locations during her tenure working in both the Existing Industry and Global Recruitment Divisions at MDA. Christine first joined MDA as a project manager for the Katrina Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Program, managing recovery projects that created jobs for the residents of south Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

 Christine is a native of Jackson, MS, and now lives in Jackson County. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and holds a graduate degree in Public Policy and Urban and Regional Planning from Jackson State University.



Natalia Diaz
Director of Asset and Resource Management

Natalia was born and grew up in Moscow, Russia. From an early age, Natalia has been involved in international affairs through volunteer programs at the Soviet Peace Committee. She received a full international scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi, moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in July 1991.

Natalia joined Jackson County Economic Development Foundation in 2003. Some of her current responsibilities include managing investor relations and events; industrial site development; existing industry expansion assistance; training and workforce development activities; marketing and recruitment outreach to prospective companies and consultants; as well as working on regional economic development activities across the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 
For ten years before that she was a Project Director for the US Department of State’s international training programs at the Mississippi Consortium for International Development in Jackson, MS, focusing on democracy, leadership, entrepreneurship and economic development programs for the countries of the former Soviet Union. Natalia traveled this state extensively, allowing international scholars opportunities to learn from the best practices everywhere in Mississippi.

Natalia is a recipient of the prestigious Mississippi 50 Leading Business Women Award. Natalia is a Paul Harris Fellow and a member of the Ocean Springs Rotary Club. She is also a member of the International Friends Club; Mississippi Economic Development Council (MEDC); Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC); International Economic Development Council (IEDC). Natalia serves on the Regional MS Gulf Coast YMCA Board of Directors, Moss Point Main Street Association Board of Directors, as well as Oak Park Elementary School PTO Board. She is a graduate of Leadership Jackson County 2004, as well as Leadership Mississippi Class of 2010.

staff-russell Patricia Russell
Executive Assistant

A native of Pascagoula, Patty Russell has been a part of the Foundation staff since the very beginning.  After working for many years for various Naval support companies in Jackson County, Patty joined the staff of the Jackson County Port Authority in 1998, and the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation in 2000.  Patty serves as Executive Assistant to the Foundation’s Executive Director as well as Foundation’s Operations Manager.  She is a graduate of Leadership Jackson County 2003, New South Economic Development Course at the University of Southern Mississippi, and various professional development programs.


Contract: Ingalls, $7M

Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded a $7,016,664 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for post-delivery planning yard services in

DHS picks Mississippi

Mississippi State University in Starkville was chosen by the Department of Homeland Security as a base of operations for drone research. Research

B&D expands, creating 35 jobs

B&D Plastics, LLC is expanding in Gautier, Miss., a $750,000 corporate investment that will create 35 jobs. B&D Plastics is one of the

Northrop expanding in Moss Point

PASCAGOULA, Miss. – Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center will expand its operation at Trent Lott International Airport in Moss Point,

Call Toll-Free: (800) 362-0103  •  Fax: (228) 762-8431  •  Email:  P.O. Drawer 1558, Pascagoula, MS 39568-1558   
©2015, Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, Inc.