Delta Regional Authority
November 30, 2016  
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Weekly News Round-up

In this issue: $6.7 million investment in Missouri | Global Entrepreneurship Week Arkansas | Louisiana NatGeo launch | Big River Crossing links West Memphis-Memphis | El Dorado Arts and Entertainment District | FedEx Aviation Center

DRA invests $6.7 million in Missouri's workforce, infrastructure, and economy

The Delta Regional Authority, along with state and local partners, announced $6.7 million in new investments aimed at strengthening Missouri's infrastructure and economy, including projects with the Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston, Three Rivers College, and the Texas County Memorial Hospital to name a few. These new investments come on top of recently-announced upgrades to the Port of New Bourbon.

DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill said, "Some projects such as expanding ferry infrastructure and online learning opportunities may not be glamorous to some, but they are essential in our region's effort to attract and keep global companies, skilled workers, and leading entrepreneurs. I'm proud to work with all of our partners to invest in the future of the Mississippi Delta region."

"These investments will be a boost to many communities across southeast Missouri, including helping to improve and increase access to rural health care for many Missouri families," Gov. Nixon added.

The investments were made primarily through the DRA States' Economic Development Assistance Program, the main federal funding program that invests in basic public infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, workforce development, and small business and entrepreneurship, and health access projects.

Special thanks to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, U.S. Congressman Jason Smith, and DRA board designee Bill Ransdall for helping make these investments into Missouri's economic development a reality.

View the full list of project investments >

Louisiana NatGeo launch showcases importance of tourism

Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill attended the launch of the National Geographic GeoTourism program in New Orleans, Louisiana along with Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, which showcased the power of tourism to help build the ecomomy at the local level.

Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographic character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.  Geotourism encompasses a range of travel opportunities including culture and heritage, history, food, nature, the outdoors, water, music and arts.

NatGeo's Mississippi River tourism guide and website launched earlier this fall, and was designed to create a virtual dialogue with and connect peopel to each other and to the unique places along our nation's largest river. The purpose of the project is for people all across the world to be able to explore Mississippi River communities through the voices of their residents and support less-traveled places and small businesses, providing a rich taste of the unique culture of the region.

Delta communities are invited to nominate historic, cultural and natural landmarks; events, attractions and activities; businesses, artisans, and storytellers as well as local legends that capture the region’s unique character, heritage and beauty.

Explore the Mississippi River Delta region and nominate an attraction >

Global Entrepreneurship Week comes to Arkansas for the first time

DRA's Delta Entrepreneurship Network (DEN) partnered with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub at Winrock International to bring the inaugural Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) to Arkansas from November 14-18, confirming DRA’s dedication to creating a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem throughout the Delta region.

Global Entrepreneurship Week was started in 2007 by GEW President Jonathan Ortmans, former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and former president, and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation Carl Schramm, with the purpose of building an entrepreneurial ecosystem across the world. According to DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, “We live and operate in a 21st-century, global economy where entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly important way to drive growth and create opportunities, especially for those living in rural America.”

Through Global Entrepreneurship Week, Delta entrepreneurs and small business owners were able to share resources and ideas to create a stronger local economy and compete on an international level. A notable highlight of the week-long series of workshops, pitch competitions, and networking events was High School Startup Day, where over 100 students from eight Arkansas schools presented their unique ideas to improve high school curriculums, including collaborative learning and business skill development.

Thank you to fellow partners Onebanc, Arkansas Capital Corporation Group, Startup Junkie Consulting, Noble Impact, Junior Achievement of Arkansas. and Leiva's Coffee for your continued support of entrepreneurship and economic growth in the Delta region.

Bring Global Entrepreneurship Week to your community >

Big River Crossing links West Memphis and Memphis

Big River Crossing (BRX) recently opened to the public as the longest pedestrian/bike bridge across the Mississippi River, providing dramatic views of its ever-changing landscape. By connecting the Main Streets of Memphis and West Memphis, the new mile long BRX ties together urban, rural, and natural areas and allows recreational users to gain easy access to the unique offerings of the two cities.

Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill joined Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, DRA board member and Tennesee designee Ted Townsend, and state and local officials in the grand opening of this monumental project five years in the making. DRA continues to focus on the importance of the creative and tourism industries to the economies of Delta communities, and supports efforts to highlight the unique food, history, and culture of the the Mississippi River Delta region.

Big River Crossing is part of the big river strategic initiative, a collection of efforts to activate and celebrate the Mississippi River and its surrounding landscape. Together with Delta Regional River Park and Big River Trail, these three projects create a new experience with the river that connects local communities and fosters a deeper appreciation of the Missisippi River's cultural and economic significance.

Read more about the Big River Crossing >

El Dorado Arts and Entertainment District boosts regional creative economy

Chairman Masingill announced a $220,000 DRA investment in the El Dorado Arts and Entertainment District, a six-block area in downtown El Dorado, Arkansas which will include five venues specifically designed for music concerts and art exhibits, restaurants, and the city's largest green space.

The El Dorado Arts & Entertainment District will connect the educational part of El Dorado and South Arkansas Community College to the historical downtown district, and will provide venues to showcase nationally recognized musicians, touring Broadway shows, comedians, world-class traveling art exhibits, outdoor festivals, and a farm-to-table restaurant in the district's hub.

"This kind of project is important to recruiting new talent and retaining existing talent,” Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill said, adding that the arts district will increase the local tax base and support the economy of the entire area, inlcuding northern Louisiana. 

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson invested an additional $5 million into the El Dorado Arts & Entertainment District to ensure that this project becomes a major regional attraction that will encourage economic growth across the region by bringing more visitors to the state and enhancing tourism, which is the second leading industry in Arkansas.  Special thanks to our other partners El Dorado Festivals & Events, Inc., the Nabholz Corporation, and Murphy USA for their dedication to the future of Union County, Arkansas and the surrounding region.

See what attractions El Dorado has to offer >

$3.4M FedEx Aviation Center will provide training for 200 students

DRA  participated in the opening ceremony for the new FedEx Aviation Center at Arkansas State University (ASU) Mid-South in West Memphis, Arkansas and announced a $250,000 investment in ASU Mid-South's aviation maintenance technology program, which will provide training for up to 200 students. 

The $3.4 million, 22,000-sq. ft. facility includes aircraft hangar space, classrooms, labs, support areas, and a Boeing 727 jet donated by FedEx. 

DRA is firmly committed to working with state and local partners to nurture and retain local talent to  create future jobs across the Delta region.

Learn more about the FedEx Aviation Center's programs >

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