Johnny DuPree has been mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for the past ten years. And although he loves his job, he’s setting his sights higher in the hope of becoming his state’s next governor. It’s a lofty goal, as Mississippi is considered to be a red, or Republican, state. But DuPree is optimistic and points to his three terms as mayor to illustrate how he can help bring jobs to the state and improve the quality of education its citizens receive.
His economic team, for example, worked with local businesses to create 1,000 jobs last year and has negotiated a deal with a California-based solar panel company to bring an additional 1,000 jobs to the city that pay an average salary of $40,000 per year. Under his leadership, Hattiesburg has received some impressive national recognition, and has been named one of the ten great small towns in which to operate a business and retire (Southern Business & Development, 2010); one of 50 top cities and ten lifestyles energizing business (Entrepreneur Magazine, 2010); and one of the top 10 best places in the U.S. to launch a small business (CNN/Money.com, 2009).
“The government does not create jobs, but it sure can aid in creating jobs,” DuPree said at a recent debate. “We aided in creating 1,000 jobs in Hattiesburg last year, which is unheard of in many cities in Mississippi.”
According to a local political reporter, DuPree has an uphill climb to win the August 2 primary.
“On the Democratic side, the 6-foot-6 Clarksdale attorney and entrepreneur Bill Luckett offers the party’s best hope, although Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, who is Black, is bound to make a good showing,” wrote Bill Minor in an opinion piece that appeared on SunHerald.com.