By Mark H. Stowers
Born, raised and educated in Alabama, Charles Finkley Jr. has made a home in North Mississippi helping bring jobs and opportunity to Tunica County. With an undergraduate degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Alabama A&M University and a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia Southern in Orange Beach, Alabama, Finkley first spent part of his career bringing economic development to his home state. Then a job in Memphis moved him closer to Tunica County where he now works.
“I worked in Memphis for the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development. That allowed me to continue doing what I love to do which is Urban and Regional Planning and Economic Development but on a larger scale,” says Finkley. “From there, I noticed the opportunity in Tunica County to further my career and help people.”
“I like to help people, communities and businesses. That’s what gets me up every morning,” he says. “This place used to be the poorest county in American and then became one of the top gaming destinations in America and in the world.”
“We are adding a lot more to bring economic activity. We’ve just partnered with the largest cruise company in America to bring over 100 cruises per year to the Tunica County Riverpark. That facility has an aquarium and museum.”
That Tunica County Riverpark sits on 160 acres with an aquarium, museum and 3.1 mile eco trail and docking for river cruise ships.
“When COVID hit, we had to redefine our entire economic development process. We were one of the hardest hit industries during COVID,” says Finkley. “Stabilizing the gaming industry became one of our top priorities.”
To do so, Finkley and his staff helped organize concerts, comedy shows, festivals and other events to draw more visitors to Tunica County.
“Tourism was one of our top economic drivers for Tunica County. From there, we were able to implement a robust business recruitment and retention strategy,” he says “These were geared toward small businesses and community development.”
When not working for Tunica County and the Delta region, Finkley takes time to travel, watch movies and sports.
“Roll Tide,” he says laughing. “My wife, Mallory, who is an entrepreneur, enjoy taking part in local community events.”
From Alabama to North Mississippi, Charles Finkley is helping make the Delta a more unique place for businesses and residents.