From the Publisher- April 2016

MDA’s Glenn McCullough

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,” based in Jackson.

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. People should be aware of the Mississippi Development Authority because of what it means to Mississippi. I’m often amazed at the number of business people in the Delta that don’t know much about this department. Many have heard of it, but when pressed, they can’t tell you one thing about it.

Toward that end, just think for a moment of the Nissan or Toyota car manufacturing concerns that built plants here in the state. Mississippi governors, Ronnie Musgrove and Haley Barbour, both played a major role in luring those entities to Mississippi. However, it was the Mississippi Development Authority and their team who provided the heavy lifting, writing and organizing the plans and proposals after which Toyota and Nissan decided to put plants here. By the way, today Nissan employs directly and indirectly 7,500 Mississippians.

At MDA, Glenn McCullough is the current head of this entity. I spent some time recently with McCullough and found he is one impressive executive. In fact, many feel McCullough may be the best in the nation doing what he does, and that is functioning as the chief rainmaker of economic development for the state.

McCullough’s long career is nothing short of amazing.

He is the former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and was nominated to the board by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1999. President George W. Bush appointed McCullough as the 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 head of MDA several months ago and how Bryant was able to pull that off still amazes people who are in the economic development industry.

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, when McCullough was Tupelo’s mayor, he was named an All-America City Leader 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 longtime leadership in northeast Mississippi is significant and in the coming years the state will benefit greatly from his leadership. In fact, the state has already benefitted from his short time at MDA.

The state of Mississippi could use more economic developers like Glenn McCullough.

To learn more about the Mississippi Development Authority, visit

In closing, on behalf of the staff of Delta Business Journal, we would like to congratulate the GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi team, the many donors who contributed to this great facility, our area’s elected officials, and the scores of volunteers who all worked together nonstop to open the doors of this museum on March 5. Political leaders, business heads, and musicians from all over the state attended the ceremonies and the opening weekend also received great attention from the regional and national media. The Wall Street Journal featured a nice article on the museum. And, while the DBJ has written many articles on the museum as the process has unfolded, and while we have paid tribute to the handful of leaders who helped make this museum a reality, there is one person at the top who never was interested in one moment of publicity. However, this museum project and idea would have never come to fruition without Jon Hornyak, the regional Grammy Chapter director in Memphis. Jon was the spark that led to all of this.

Thank you, Jon and thank you from all of us and from the many generations who will benefit from this museum in so many ways through the years. Tourism is growing by leaps and bounds in the Mississippi Delta and the new Grammy Museum Mississippi located in Cleveland is just one more asset that will help this industry continue to grow and prosper.