The Community Development Foundation was organized in 1948 in the Blue Room of (the original) Hotel Tupelo by community leaders who saw the need for a unified effort to coordinate the economic and community development activities of the region.

The Community Development Foundation is a membership-based organization governed by a Board of Directors that is composed of the Board Development Committee and the Board of Directors. CDF's goals and objectives are accomplished through the efforts of members appointed to committees operating under one of CDF's three divisions: Community & Chamber Services Division, Economic Development Division and Planning Services Division. Utilizing a professional staff and experienced volunteers, CDF represents the Tupelo/Lee County region to business, industry and professional leaders who bring jobs to the region. CDF's membership assumes the leadership role in developing strategic plans, an annual program of work designed to enhance agricultural, business, educational, industrial, private/public partnership and support efforts such as skills and technology enhancement, improved transportation and health care.

In addition, CDF has been instrumental in establishing and/or supporting agencies that meet the needs of the community: Lift, Inc., a multi-county community action agency; United Way of Greater Lee County; The Lee County Council of Governments; Big Ten Development Association; Entrepreneurs' Forum of Northeast Mississippi; Tri-State Natchez Trace Parkway Association and Tupelo Furniture Marketing Association.

CDF also sponsors a number of annual events, such as Industry-Education Day, the Northeast Mississippi Annual Economic Forecast Conference, and an annual membership meeting that summarizes the past years and accomplishments.

One of the largest contributions CDF has made is collaboration with government in the establishment of nine industrial parks located in the area. CDF has been characterized by many as an organization that is at the center of innovation, as well as the most significant creative force in rural American economic and community development.


The Beginning

The Community Development Foundation was organized in 1948 in the Blue Room of Hotel Tupelo by community leaders who saw the need for a unified effort to coordinate the economic and community development activities of the region.

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Getting to Work

In the early 1950’s, as the Rural Community Development Council program was being adopted on a national scale, CDF worked to provide displaced farm workers with jobs in local industries. Industrial employment totaled 1,900 workers and Rockwell opened in Tupelo as a result of $120,000 in incentives. CDF, through its Industrial Committee, began to focus intently on attracting commercial and industrial employers to Tupelo and Lee County. CDF also had a new leader at the helm in Cecil White, who replaced Sam Marshall as Executive Officer. 

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Manufacturing Power

With the 1960’s came a continued effort to further Tupelo/Lee County’s status as a growing manufacturing power in Mississippi. In 1961, Lee County Supervisors approved the paving of 84 miles of county roads which allowed rural workers to get to work year round and gave Lee County one of the most improved rural road systems in the state.

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Tupelo's Centennial Anniversary

The year 1970 marked the centennial anniversary of Tupelo. While past accomplishments were applauded, community leaders were focused on even greater plans for the Tupelo/Lee County region.

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National Exposure

The 1980’s were a decade of national exposure for the Community Development Foundation. A Wall Street Journal article sited Tupelo among the “smaller cities that rank as the best in attracting new business.” Hundreds of thousands of quality furniture pieces were being produced making Tupelo/Lee County the upholstered furniture capital of the world.

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Quality of Life Growth

During the 1990’s, a great deal of CDF’s efforts were focused on quality of life programs. With the help of the PHH Fantus Study, twenty strategies were selected to focus on during this decade.

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New CEO / Automotive Rise

The turn of the century not only brought new industry to the Tupelo/Lee County area, but new a new face to the helm of CDF. On August 21, 2000, David Rumbarger replaced Harry A. Martin as President and Chief Executive Officer of CDF.

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Intentional Strategy & Continued Success

A decade filled with 135 total projects won during the 2010s generating $930,968,725.70 in total capital investment. By choosing to locate or expand in Tupelo/Lee County, these businesses created 7,347 jobs for local residents. With these additional jobs came $231,299,854.20 of new payroll added to the pockets of Tupelo/Lee County citizens. All of this growth is directly attributed to our available product and people.

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