As Bennie Hopkins prepares for his new role as the city of Jackson's director of planning and development, he reflected on what he has learned from working with Corinne Fox, who is ending her 45-year career in regional and urban planning today.
For the past year and a half, Hopkins has served as the deputy director of urban planning and worked under Fox, who Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. appointed as director of planning and development in July 2009. In 1969, Fox became the first woman to receive a degree in urban planning from the University of Mississippi and was instrumental in forming the city of Jackson's master plan in 1996.
"What I have found with Corinne is that she has tremendous institutional knowledge of not only the intricacies of Jackson's planning landscape, but also the planning landscape of the entire state of Mississippi. It's been a treat to work with her and glean some of that working knowledge."
Today, Hopkins is helping organize Fox's retirement party set for this afternoon. On Monday, he will officially begin his role as director of planning and development.
The 40-year-old Meridian native earned his bachelor's degree in industrial technology from Jackson State University in 1995 and his master's degree in urban and regional planning from JSU in 2001. He has spent the majority of his career as a public servant, starting out by working as a building inspector for the city in 1996 and eventually working his way up to senior planner.
As director of planning, some of Hopkins' responsibilities will include overseeing the department's four divisions: office of planning, office of housing and community development, office of economic development and office of code services.
"All of those offices touch on some aspect of development or redevelopment, reinvestment or code enforcement in the city," he said. "It is a tremendous task that we do to enhance quality of life for the citizens of Jackson."
He will also assist with the city's efforts to clean up derelict or abandoned properties, and advise the city on economic growth. He will also spearhead the city's efforts to assist Baptist Health Systems' expansion in Belhaven and development of the Highway 80 corridor.
"We want to continue the foundation that has been laid by Corinne Fox," he said. "We want to continue educating the public on property maintenance and upkeep and we want to encourage development in the city of Jackson."