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Coopwood on Mississippi Development Authority’s Glenn McCullough

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Governor Phil Bryant’s team has a special department dedicated to bringing manufacturing concerns to Mississippi as well as helping our existing industries expand. It is called the Mississippi Development Authority, also known as “MDA.”

From recent conversations with friends I have had over the last month or so, I’m amazed to discover they are not aware of this agency of they have never even heard of it. However, this department is vitally important to the state and it has been in business for decades, although the name has been changed a few times.

Think of the Nissan or the Toyota car manufacturing concerns that built plants here in the state. The Mississippi seated governors of the time, Ronnie Musgrove and Haley Barbour, no doubt led the way in luring those entities to Mississippi. However, it was the Mississippi Development Authority and that team who provided the heavy lifting, who actually wrote the plans and proposals that helped Toyota and Nissan make the decision to put plants here. By the way, today, Nissan employs directly and indirectly 7,500 Mississippians.

Glenn McCullough, is the current head of the Mississippi Development Authority based in Jackson across from the Capitol. And, McCullough just may be the best in the nation in doing what he does and that is functioning as the chief rainmaker of economic development for the state. I spent some time with him the other day and I left very impressed.

McCullough’s long career is significant. He is the former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, who was nominated to the board by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1999. President George W. Bush appointed him Chairman of the TVA board of Directors in 2001, a position he held until November 2005. McCullough is also a former director of the Appalachian Regional Commission and a former mayor of Tupelo. And, as you can imagine, he is one very smart and capable guy. Gov. Bryant named McCullough as the head of MDA several months ago and how Bryant was able to pull that off still amazes me.

While McCullough was at TVA, the utility became known around the country for their economic development efforts. Toyota is located on a TVA megasite of which McCullough helped seal the deal.

Back in 1997, McCullough was elected Tupelo’s mayor. As mayor, he was named an All-America City by the National Civic League. Under his leadership, Tupelo launched the 50-acre Fairpark District that is so important to that area. During his term, Tupelo also saw major revitalizations that ranged from community amenities to the development of new business locations.

McCullough’s leadership in northeast Mississippi is huge and in the coming years, the state will benefit greatly from his long career and current efforts. Simply put, the state of Mississippi could use more economic developers like Glenn McCullough.

To learn more about the Mississippi Development Authority, visit www.mississippi.org.


Scott Coopwood, a seventh generation Deltan, lives in Cleveland, Mississippi, with his wife Cindy and their three children. Scott is the publisher and owner of Delta Magazine, one of the South’s leading lifestyle publications, the Delta Business Journal, the first business publication in the Mississippi Delta; and Cleveland’s weekly newspaper, The Cleveland Current.

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