Leaders in Ag: Glenn McCullough
Author: Vanessa Beeson
Governor Phil Bryant appointed Glenn McCullough, Jr., 1977 agricultural economics alumnus, as the executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority in summer 2015.
"Our goals at the Mississippi Development Authority are accelerating growth, strengthening the economy, and attracting more and better career opportunities, which can enable Mississippians to achieve a higher quality of life," McCullough said. "Economic development is a team sport, and our job at MDA is to work with partners across the state."
Currently, McCullough oversees 250 team members focused on supporting communities, industries, and businesses throughout the state to achieve their goals. He explained the Mississippi Development Authority works in tandem with multiple organizations in order to achieve those goals. Partners include the state's economic development professionals, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the employment security commission, and others.
"We also rely on community colleges, research institutions, planning and development districts, and government at all levels," McCullough said.
He spoke specifically to collaboration with the state's public universities.
"While I graduated from Mississippi State and I am forever maroon, I am proud of all our institutions of higher learning," McCullough said. "Mississippi has eight public universities, all distinct in their roles and advantages. It's a unique opportunity to work with all of them."
McCullough's economic development experience is vast. He is a former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA, one of the largest regional economic organizations in the country, which provides energy across seven states. Prior to his tenure at TVA, he was mayor of Tupelo, Mississippi. McCullough currently serves on two corporate boards.
He's proud to have been a part of the Fair Park District and the Pontotoc, Union, Lee Alliance—just two points of pride in his long list of achievements.
"I've been fortunate to work with talented leaders. Many public and private leaders in Tupelo were visionary in their support of the Fair Park District, which created a new face for the city," McCullough said.
He discussed the team effort of the Pontotoc, Union, Lee Alliance, which helped make the dream of the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi plant a reality.
"The TVA played a leadership role working with local, regional, and state leaders to help make Mississippi the only state in the country with both Nissan and Toyota automotive plants," McCullough said. "Today, the Toyota plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi, produces a Toyota Corolla every 72 seconds. The team there assembled 500,000 Corollas faster than any other Toyota plant in the country.
"When Mississippians set their sights on a goal, it will happen," he continued. "I have great faith in the people of my home state."
McCullough said his time at MSU offered a great opportunity to learn and expand his horizons.
"Agricultural economics is a great gateway to business, and how business relates to agriculture, a major target sector of the Mississippi economy," he said. "It was a fairly diverse major. Being exposed to a lot of different segments afforded me opportunities down the road, including working for an international company as well as in my family's business, McCullough Steel Products, based out of Tupelo."
McCullough appreciates his former professors.
"I am forever grateful for my professors, Dr. James Hamill, Dr. Verner Hurt and Dr. Warren Couvillion," McCullough said. "They had my best interest at heart, and as I look back, I appreciate even more how much they tried to guide me down the right course."
McCullough is part of a proud Bulldog family. McCullough's wife Laura attended MSU. His two sons, Vance, assistant editor of social media for ESPN's SEC network, and Glenn Thomas, called "G.T.," first base coach at Northwestern State University, both attended MSU. Vance's wife, Rachel, and G.T.'s wife, Sally Beth, are also alumni. Glenn and Laura McCullough have two young granddaughters, Bailey Louise and Sally Grace.
"I am proud of MSU," McCullough concluded. "Not only does the university excel in providing the learning experience, research, and discovery of new knowledge, Dr. Keenum is also attuned to the service role of the university; certainly in Mississippi but beyond to the country and the world."