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"John has been very interactive and participatory on our board," he said."I was around when he was dreaming about creating the district, and I remember in the late 1970s he called and asked my opinion and I told him he was nuts.But it's also fair to say that he was trying to evolve from consultant into developer at the same time within our project, and some unrealistic prices were put on land by private owners." Locally, Elkington has also had to fight some battles.Two years ago, then-Performa CFO and longtime friend Paul Gurley died.In what may have been Performa's most public management failure, financial support for the Red River Entertainment District in Shreveport fell through in October when the primary creditor, Flint Industries, met with foreclosure.Mayor Keith Hightower and city officials worked with Elkington for more than seven years. A little more commercial than Beale Street, but unique to Shreveport," said Hightower.
The 54-year-old entrepreneur has made a career out of turning nothing into a lot of something.Although Elkington gets most of the credit for turning the street around, James actually maintains it, working with the Beale Street Merchants Association, spearheading security, and patrolling the area during nighttime events. The energetic 49-year-old admits to having doubts about Elkington in the beginning. Although Elkington had served on the CCC before, Rendtorff questioned his commitment to the position and its requirements."The [CCC] post has to deal with a lot of issues dealing with money and tax freezes, and these things need to be scrutinized very carefully," said Rendtorff."And here you've got somebody who doesn't fill out forms like he's asked, doesn't fill out resumes, doesn't show up for [his] committee [interview] and expects to be put on the board.These things need careful scrutiny, and I'm not sure he's capable of that." Quite the contrary, said CCC president Jeff Sanford, who has known and worked with Elkington in various capacities dating back before Beale Street was redeveloped.