NEWS: Delta Regional Authority and Winrock International launch investment fund for Delta startups

December 21, 2016

NEWS: Delta Regional Authority and Winrock International launch first-of-its-kind, multi-million dollar investment fund for Delta startups

Provides local entrepreneurs with training, mentoring, and access to capital

Chairman Masingill: “These investments will help make the Delta an innovative hub for the entrepreneurs and startups of tomorrow.”

MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA – Delta-based startups and entrepreneurs will have access to a first-of-its-kind, multi-million dollar investment fund focusing on helping them compete on a global scale, the leaders of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and Winrock International (Winrock) announced today. 

The Delta I-Fund, which includes an initial $1 million investment from IBERIABANK as well as another $1 million from the DRA, will target local entrepreneurs across the eight-state Delta region and provide key training, mentoring, and capital investment to help them build their businesses. 

“This strategic investment aligns with our core mission – creating jobs, building communities, and improving lives by making the Delta an innovative hub for the startup leaders of tomorrow,” said DRA Chairman Masingill. “I’m proud to work with Winrock International and our partners to invest in the future of the Mississippi Delta region. With the Delta I-Fund, we’re breaking new ground - both here at the DRA and throughout the Delta region.”

The Delta I-Fund began in 2016 by supporting student-led startup businesses at five universities. The expanded initiative will provide a structured, 12-week training program that includes mentoring from accomplished business professionals and the potential to provide up to $50,000 of investment for each startup. The DRA, together with support from the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), will work in underserved communities to develop key partnerships, secure “buy in” from public, private, and university programs, and create jobs and businesses in the areas that need the opportunities the most.  

“There is no more important task facing this region and the country than creating and maintaining high-skilled, good paying jobs,” Winrock CEO Rodney Ferguson said. “We are proud to have the Delta Regional Authority as such a strong partner in developing entrepreneurs, start-ups and local economies in the Delta.”

The Delta I-Fund will work with key Delta-based partners to identify and target entrepreneurs across the region. The DRA investment will enable them to significantly expand partners to include public, private and university institutions throughout the DRA footprint.

“The inaugural cohort of the I-Fund focused on university startups in Arkansas, and was a success by every measure,” said Jeff Stinson, Director of Entrepreneurship for the Innovation Hub at Winrock International. “This investment from the DRA will allow us to expand our program throughout the Delta region, with strong potential for job and company growth by empowering entrepreneurs.”

DETAILS OF NEW DELTA I-FUND

  • Invests up to $50,000 in startups from across the region, allowing innovative entrepreneurs from the Delta to expand and compete on a global scale.
  • Provides a structured, 12-week training program that includes mentoring from accomplished business professionals for each startup.
  • Collaborates with public, private, and university programs to train cohorts of collegiate and other startups across the Delta. 

“The Delta Regional Authority’s latest investment announcement is great news for underserved areas of Alabama,” said U.S. Senator Richard Shelby. “The DRA continues to play a crucial role in the economic development of West Alabama, and I’m excited to help provide our small businesses with the support they need.”

U.S. Senator John Boozman said, “It is vital that entrepreneurs have access to the tools that help them innovate and produce goods and services that grow our economy. This investment by the Delta Regional Authority and Winrock International will help provide start-ups with resources that can benefit them as they seek to meet the demands of the marketplace in new and exciting ways that have the potential to revolutionize the way we live our lives and interact with the world around us."
 

About the Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. To date, the DRA’s SEDAP investments, together with its state and local partners, have leveraged $138 million in federal resources into more than $2.9 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, and infrastructure development projects. These investments have helped create or retain more than 26,000 jobs since the DRA was established. Learn more at dra.gov.

About Winrock International
Winrock is a recognized leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues. Inspired by its namesake, Winthrop Rockefeller, Winrock combines scientific and technical expertise with entrepreneurial innovation to deliver market-based solutions that improve lives around the world. Winrock's mission is to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources across the globe. 

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Media Contact: Andrew Moreau
amoreau@dra.gov