Tupelo among regional MDA closings

McCULLOUGH

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Former Tupelo mayor and Tennessee Valley Authority chairman Glenn McCullough Jr. has emerged as a leading contender for Mississippi’s top economic development post, but a spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant says no decision has been made.

The Jackson-based Mississippi Business Journal reported late Thursday afternoon that Bryant had offered McCullough the post of executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. But Nicole Webb, a spokeswoman for Bryant, said, “The governor has not made a decision” on the vacancy.

McCullough, contacted by the Daily Journal  late Thursday, said he had no comment.

“The governor makes these decisions, and I trust his judgment,” McCullough said.

McCullough has never led a state or local economic development agency, but as chair of the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority he headed an agency which not only supplies electricity in its seven-state region, but works with state and local governments on economic development efforts.

McCullough currently serves as a consultant, primarily in the energy sector.

The post is open because Brent Christensen, who has been the MDA executive director for three years, recently accepted he post as chief executive officer and president of the Greensboro Partnership in North Carolina. He is scheduled to report to his new job no later than June 1.

Sources have told the Daily Journal that McCullough is a leading contender for the job, but none confirmed that the governor has made a final decision.

This year has been eventful for McCullough, 60. He was viewed as a likely candidate in the 1st District special congressional election being held to fill the vacancy left by the death of incumbent U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, in February.

But he opted to forgo that election and instead accept an appointment by Bryant to serve on the 12-member Board of Trustees of state Institutions of Higher Learning. The Senate confirmed McCullough for that post during the recently completed 2015 session.

McCullough could legally remain on the College Board while serving as the state's top economic developer.

McCullough was mayor of Tupelo from 1997 to 1999, when he was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the TVA board. President George W. Bush named the Republican McCullough TVA chairman in 2001, a position he held until 2005.

He also served in the 1990s as state director of the Appalachian Regional Commission, appointed by former Gov. Kirk Fordice.

Twitter: @BobbyHarrison9

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