This past week, we had the opportunity to meet with Glenn McCullough, the new head of the MDA, to discuss some of his thoughts and perspectives on energizing Mississippi’s economic development effort.
A lifelong Mississippian who was born in Tupelo, Glenn is no stranger to either public or private business. After graduating from Tupelo public schools and Mississippi State University, he spent time working in the family business, as well as out of state for a period of time. Ultimately, his career led to public service, and at various periods, he worked for Gov. Kirk Fordice, served as mayor of Tupelo for several years, and then was nominated and served as chairman of the TVA for 4 years. His sisters are active in both business and economic development.
With that background, it would be difficult to find an individual who is more passionate about Mississippi and our economic future.
“I believe we have a unique opportunity to make a positive difference for our state and its people,” he said. “We have so many great assets as a state….it’s difficult to see how we can fail to grow and progress in the coming years.”
What are some of those assets, from his point of view?
“Just consider our strength in advanced manufacturing,” he said. “Look at our potential in agribusiness, timber, water, technology, aerospace, health care, great transportation and port facilities….the list just goes on and on.”
He acknowledged that the state does have its challenges.
“We certainly need to continue our focus on improving education in Mississippi,” he said. “Companies want to come to states that have educated, skilled workforces, and we simply must provide that workforce if we hope to grow in the next 20 years.”
He sees the importance of “mid-level skills” to many companies, meaning people who are trained in vocational and technical fields.
“The right investments in education can pay big dividends,” he suggested. “Our people are hungry for economic progress, and it’s our job to provide them with the opportunities to be a part of that progress.”
Glenn sees the whole field of economic development as a “team effort”, suggesting that “we all need to work together and across county lines. If we do that, I think the possibilities in Mississippi are virtually limitless.”
As might be expected with his TVA background, Glenn believes energy is one of the important elements of building a healthy and growing economy. He continues to be a strong supporter of the Kemper County plant, and he echoes the position of Mississippi Power that fuel costs will be volatile in the long term, “and that long term is the perspective we need to adopt.” As he sees it, Kemper is built on solid, proven “clean technology” and the state is going to benefit from its contribution to our energy needs over a period of decades.
“We Mississippians are basically an energetic people,” he said. “We have strong values, and I am convinced if we work together and share a common vision, Mississippi’s best days are ahead, not behind us.”
Glenn also stressed the importance of working closely with the states institutions of higher learning, “some of our greatest assets,” as he said.
“Overall, I think it’s all about forging the right partnership between the public and private sectors, understanding that we all share the same objectives, and rolling our sleeves up and getting to work,” he said.
With his passion, energy, and enthusiasm, it’s easy to see Glenn McCullough as one of the folks leading the charge.
A brief video interview with Glenn can be seen our our website, MSBusiness.com, or on our YouTube Channel, mbjournal.
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at email@example.com or (601) 364-1021.