A future brighter than ever before'

By Staff
Feb. 17, 2002
The notes I scratched with an old ballpoint pen on a paper napkin at breakfast the other morning were a little hard to read after they spent a few hours crumpled in my coat pocket, but one impression stuck like pine tar to a baseball bat:
Glenn McCullough, former mayor of Tupelo and now chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, is a fine speaker. He delivered a personalized message to people who attended a "Business Before Hours" session of the East Mississippi Business Development Corp. He did it with style and humor, hope and optimism. He called people in the audience by name and looked right at them when he did it. He is a bright, articulate man with a firm grip on the future.
McCullough heads the governing board of the nation's largest public power company created from the despair of the Great Depression in 1933. Its mandate was and remains to produce and deliver electrical power affordably to some of the poorest parts of America. TVA's territory covers 36 Mississippi counties, running as far south as Kemper County, and the authority has a huge commitment to economic development.
His comments about Meridian and Lauderdale County's strategic location between two huge automotive manufacturing plants Mercedes about 109 miles to the east in Vance, Ala., and Nissan about 111 miles to the west in Canton  were well-received. His central theme was that our area has "a future brighter than ever before."
In many ways, the future of east Mississippi is tied to the contributions of TVA and, in turn, TVA's success is tied to our future. For example, TVA is heavily involved in a $200 million power generation plant construction project in Kemper County and will buy the power the plant generates for the next 30 years. The project, McCullough said, is on schedule and on budget.
The relationship between TVA and the people it serves is a partnership, structured so that each benefits, each has a vested interest in success. It's the best kind of partnership to have.
He made another observation, too. Economic development, investment of capital and creation of new jobs can't happen until a community is prepared for them. A strategic assessment of strengths and weaknesses is helpful. Preparation is essential.
And that means having diverse segments of a community buying into a common concept of what the community should become. One thing my friends in economic development tell me no community will remain the same forever. Won't happen. It can get better, it may get worse, but it will not stay the same.
With a good transportation network, access to new technologies, geographical location, trained workers, Meridian Community College, the MSU-Meridian Campus, NAS Meridian and a long history in manufacturing, McCullough believes our area is becoming well-positioned for future growth.
The last notes on my napkin revealed my own belief: "He's right!"

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