Home » NEWS » Economic Development » EXIT INTERVIEW — McCullough’s tenure at MDA marked by record economic growth
Glenn McCullough

EXIT INTERVIEW — McCullough’s tenure at MDA marked by record economic growth

By BECKY GILLETTE

Glenn McCullough

The five years Glenn McCullough, Jr., served as executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) were marked by some of the best economic growth in the state’s history.

McCullough, who retired to the private sector at the end of January, credits the success to teamwork.

“When I arrived at MDA in 2015, we focused on optimizing the relationship of people, process and product,” McCullough said. “When those three work together, you will be successful. The talented people at MDA work with the governor, economic development officials, utility partners and workforce development partners, and that’s the process. It’s the culture of teamwork.”

That teamwork has led to record capital investment in Mississippi, a record number of people employed who are earning higher salaries, and an increase in the general fund.

Area Development Magazine recognizes states for attracting high-value projects that create a significant number of new jobs. States are awarded gold and silver shovels for their economic development achievements by the magazine covering site selection and facility planning.

“Mississippi won its first gold shovel in 2017, and Gov. Phil Bryant was proud to hoist a second gold shovel in 2019,” McCullough said. “The state received six silver shovels and two gold shovels during Gov. Bryant’s two terms. That is the result of hard work by Gov. Bryant and teamwork of people across the state. The process of teamwork allows us to achieve milestones like more people working, higher incomes, and record revenue for the state.”

Notable projects under his tenure include Continental Tire, Relativity Space and two Amazon fulfillment centers. The state has also achieved record growth in global export trade in recent years.

Chad E. Newell, president of the Area Development Partnership, Hattiesburg, said McCullough served Mississippi admirably over the past five years. 

“Glenn is a proven leader and worked tirelessly to help advance our state,” Newell said. “He was always available and willing to discuss issues, projects, and opportunities impacting our region’s economy. I appreciate his faithful service and wish him the very best.”

McCullough worked diligently to implement Gov. Bryant’s agenda to attract jobs and investment to Mississippi, said Pablo Diaz, president and CEO, Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce, Warren County Port Commission and Warren County Economic Development Foundation.

“Under his motto of ‘People, Process, Product,’ Glenn and his team empowered local economic development leaders to prepare their communities and achieve success,” Diaz said. “Under his tenure, we witnessed the attraction of thousands of jobs in the state and the strongest show of support I have seen to adequately fund programs to help increase product availability in industrial parks across the state. Glenn worked to make MDA an open-door agency where local ideas were listened to, given proper attention, and if possible, fully supported. I appreciate Glenn’s service to our state and wish him the greatest success in his new enterprise in the private sector.”

Since 2015, MDA partnered with the Community Development Foundation (CDF) to win 52 projects.

“These 52 projects accounted for over $498 million in capital investment and created over 3,200 jobs and $106 million in new wages in Tupelo and Lee County,” said David P. Rumbarger, president and CEO of the CDF. “This partnership with Glenn and the MDA assisted companies, including Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi, a Toyota supplier. Also among those 52 projects are BancorpSouth Tech Center expansion, Cooper Tire and Rubber Company automation expansion, General Atomics, H.M. Richards, Southern Motion, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi-2020 Corolla expansion. Glenn’s leadership, guidance and his sacrifice of service the past four years for our state have been vital to Tupelo and Lee County.”

McCullough agrees with experts who say Mississippi’s economy has never been stronger.

“If you choose to assess Mississippi’s economy on employment in recent months, a record number of Mississippians are employed,” he said. “In the past two years, unemployment has been at a record low. There is record revenue for the state’s general fund. Mississippi’s rainy-day fund is full to the max. It’s the process that has changed for the better across the state. Economic developers, legislators, utilities, community colleges and research universities all are working together to make Mississippi’s economy strong.”

McCullough said the best part of the job was working with good people at MDA and other partners across the state.

“These people have talent and passion for our state, both in good times and challenging times,” he said. “Gov. Tate Reeves has been a leader in economic development throughout his public life for the past 16 years. Gov. Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker Philip Gunn will set new records. I want this economic momentum to grow. I believe our best years lie ahead.”

Former Gov. Bryant said McCullough has been an integral part of Mississippi’s economic success. “I wish him well in his future endeavors and appreciate his commitment to supporting job creation and growth in Mississippi,” Bryant said.

Mississippi has long been McCullough’s home. He grew up in Tupelo, graduated from Tupelo High School and then earned a degree in ag economics from Mississippi State University. He was a cheerleader while at MSU.

He intends to stay in the state continuing to help with economic development efforts from the private sector, working with people, organizations and companies to help them achieve their goals in Mississippi and beyond.

McCullough had a long tenure in politics and economic development prior to being named to lead the MDA in 2015. He was mayor of Tupelo when he was nominated to the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) by former Pres. Bill Clinton in 1999. He was confirmed in that position by the U.S. Senate. Then he was selected by President George W. Bush as chairman of the TVA board of Directors in 2001, a position he held until November 2005.

During his tenure with TVA, the utility earned national recognition for its economic development efforts and launched its megasite program. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi, Mississippi’s second original equipment manufacturer in the automobile industry, is located on a TVA megasite.

McCullough also served as executive director of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership that focuses on economic development in 13 states, from 1993 to 1997.

As MDA executive director, McCullough oversaw a staff of about 250 people. He and his wife, Laura, have two sons and four grandchildren. They have homes in Tupelo and Brandon.

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About Becky Gillette