NEWS: Delta Regional Authority, state, local partners invest $11.5 million into Alabama Black Belt

September 17, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Delta Regional Authority and its partners are investing nearly $11.5 million in federal, state, and local resources to support small business owners and entrepreneurs, workers and their families by improving economic development, workforce training, and job creation in Alabama’s Black Belt region, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and Governor Robert Bentley announced today.

“The DRA is excited to announce another year of investing into the people, small businesses, and infrastructure that make the Alabama Black Belt a great place to live,” Chairman Masingill said. “These investments strategically leverage funding for projects that will help to address the workforce training, transportation, and public service needs of our communities while driving economic development and growing small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

State # of Projects DRA Resources Leveraged Funds Total Investment
Alabama         9    $1,106,966     $10,440,070    $11,547,036

The nine new investments, including a new business incubator, workforce training programs, and infrastructure improvements for business locations and expansion, leverage $1 million in federal resources into nearly $11.5 million in total public and private investment for Alabama Black Belt communities, their residents, and their economies. These investments are expected to help create and retain more than 1,000 jobs for local residents, develop 180 entrepreneurs and business owners, and train 100 workers.

The investments are made through the DRA States’ Economic Development Assistance Program, the agency’s main federal funding program that invests in basic public infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, workforce development, and small business and entrepreneurship, and health access projects in the 252 counties and parishes of the eight-state Delta region. DRA coordinates directly with Alabama’s local development districts in the region for program funding implementation.

DRA leadership works closely with the governor of each state and his board designee to identify projects to receive SEDAP investments, which are aligned with state economic development goals.  

“Alabama’s partnership with the Delta Regional Authority is important to the citizens of the Black Belt Region.” Governor Robert Bentley said. “There is a great need for improvements of infrastructure, workforce development and healthcare access in the region. We can leverage a minimal amount of state dollars and receive major federal investment dollars for our state. This DRA funding will play an integral part in helping with important improvements and increasing opportunities for economic growth in Alabama.”

These federal investments require a minimal investment of state funds that can bring a large return in DRA and other agency funding and result in a great economic impact for the Delta region in Alabama.

“We are so grateful to the Delta Regional Authority for their continued support and investment in Black Belt communities. Job creation remains one of our top priorities in the 7th District and I am thrilled that the DRA is working with us to create economic opportunities for hard working Alabamians,” U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell said. “Our constituents truly benefit when we are committed to supporting and building strong collaborative efforts. I commend Chairman Chris Masingill for his exemplary leadership and I look forward to continuing our work on behalf of the citizens of the 7th Congressional District.”


Training and Innovating Delta Entrepreneurs, Regionwide (AL-1, 2, 3, 7): The University of Alabama’s Alabama Entrepreneur Research Network (AERN) will establish business development centers in seven Black Belt counties, relocate the current AERN Center in Macon County, and expand resouces for twelve additional Black Belt counties (150 entrepreneurs to be trained and 20 jobs to be retained). DRA Investment: $100,000; Leveraged Public Investment: $18,889.

Alabama Tombigbee Transportation Program, Clark, Conecuh, Monroe, and Wilcox counties (AL-1, 2, 7): Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission’s Rural Transportation program will expand its transportation services with the addition of four new vehicles to include services for the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program. DRA Investment: $38,200; Leveraged Public Investment: $152,800.

Addressing Welding Shortage, Brewton (AL-1): Upgrades to Jefferson Davis Community College’s facilities for the current welding program; upgrades will improve training and increase the capacity of the program to train more local workers in welding (1 job to be created and 30 workers to be trained). DRA Investment: $150,000; Leveraged Public Investment: $135,505.

City of Jackson ID Building Improvements, Jackson (AL-1): The renovation of an industrial building in Jackson to house a production facility for iSpice, a Canadian food spice and seasoning company (60 jobs to be created). DRA Investment: $206,000; Leveraged Private Investment: $8,000,000.

Hudson Branch WWTP Improvements, Monroeville (AL-1): Improvements to the WWTP will modify existing infrastructure and reallocate usage of the larger abandoned clarifier as an aeration basin to ensure nitrification and achieve adequate treatment (400 households to be affected). DRA Investment: $155,500; Leveraged Public Investment: $52,000.

Eufaula Hotel Site Infrastructure, Eufaula (AL-2): Construction of public water infrastructure to support the development of an upper-midscale hotel with meeting space to attract and accommodate tourism and small conferences (22 jobs to be created). DRA Investment: $49,350; Leveraged Private Investment: $1,500,000.

Wayne Foods Industrial Access and Site Preparation, Union Springs (AL-2): Improvements to the industrial access road and site preparations for a new parking lot to serve Wayne Farms, LLC, an existing business that supplies food products to a number of local restaurants (900 jobs to be retained). DRA Investment: $177,916; Leveraged Public Investment: $24,876.

Demopolis Truck Driving School, Demopolis (AL-7): Construction of a new driving range in the South Industrial Park to meet federal regulations for Shelton State Community College’s truck driving program (40 workers to be trained). DRA Investment: $150,000; Leveraged Public Investment: $100,000.

Pop Start Business Incubator, York (AL-7): Construction of the Pop Start business incubator to provide permanent retail space for business incubation, a cooperative market a community social space with wifi and gallery space for community artists (3 jobs to be created and retained and 30 entrepreneurs to be trained). DRA Investment: $80,000; Leveraged Public Investment: $456,000.

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. Through the past thirteen investment cycles of the DRA’s States Economic Development Assistance Program, DRA investments have leveraged $2.7 billion in other public and private investment into projects that are helping to create and retain 42,000 jobs, train 13,000 for a 21st century workforce, and provide more than 82,000 families access to clean water and sewer services. Learn more at


Spencer Lucker
(501) 416-3789