Delta Regional Authority
December 07, 2018  
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Delta News Round-up

In this Issue: DRA Supports Efforts to Advance Agriculture as Economic Development Tool | DRA, Winrock International Promote Entrepreneurship in the Delta | DLI Class Meets in Vicksburg | Recap of DRA Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week

DRA Supports Efforts to Advance Agriculture as Economic Development Tool

DRA joined state Agriculture Commissioners in Memphis to discuss collaborative efforts that will enhance economic development and job creation in the Delta region. The meeting was a great opportunity to learn more about the priorities for commissioners from Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee

Two Memphis-based organizations, AgLaunch and Agricenter International, put together the session, which focused on connecting innovators, investors and industry professionals to enhance the development of agriculture in the Delta. DRA will continue to support innovative initiatives that create jobs and push forward economic development in our eight-state region.

AgLaunch connects entrepreneurs with growers to form collaborative relationships and build programs that revitalize urban and rural communities. Agricenter International works with agribusiness, university systems, and government and non-government organizations to help advance and market the latest agricultural technologies and products.

DRA, Winrock International Promote Entrepreneurship in the Delta

The Delta I-Fund is a partnership involving DRA and Winrock International to train entrepreneurs in the Delta region. Each startup team accepted into the program is matched with a mentor, completes 10-12 weeks of rigorous training alongside other startup teams and receives a $5,000 technical assistance allowance.

To date, 53 companies and 127 founders from the following states have received assistance: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Diversity is a main goal of the program, and of those receiving assistance:  32 percent are female and 33 percent are people of color.

The mission of the Delta I-Fund is to improve low-to-moderate income communities throughout the DRA territory. The program seeks to provide a platform for the creation and launch of high-growth companies, spurring economic development and job creation in the region.

DLI Class Meets in Vicksburg

The 2018-19 class of the Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) gathered in Vicksburg earlier this week to continue efforts to learn more about the region and how they can contribute to help build and grow local economies.

The 31-member class met Dec. 3-6, participating in sessions that focused on apprenticeship programs and workforce development, project management, leadership and the challenges faced by an emerging workforce.

Chairman Chris Caldwell highlighted DRA’s $80,000 investment in a River Barge Training Program at Hinds Community College in Vicksburg, an effort that will strengthen Mississippi’s workforce by creating new jobs and enhancing economic development efforts.

The program focuses on developing the next generation of deckhands, tankermen and steersmen for transportation and logistics companies operating along the Mississippi River. Hinds Community College will partner with four barge companies to deliver short-term training for the positions and place about 150 trainees in full-time jobs. By next fiscal year, Hinds will increase training to 250-300 individuals to support the needs of industry.  

In addition, DLI members visited the Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg and the Mississippi River Commission. Both organizations focus on developing and protecting the Mississippi River as a natural resource that contributes to the growth of our nation.

DRA Joins U.S. Department of Labor to Celebrate Apprenticeship Programs

The Delta Regional Authority joined our federal partner, the U.S. Department of Labor, to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week from Nov. 12-18. The week-long event highlighted the benefits of apprenticeship programs to prepare a highly skilled workforce to meet the talent needs of employers across diverse industries.

Chairman Chris Caldwell visited several workforce training sites in the region to emphasize that apprenticeship programs and workforce education are an investment priority for DRA.

OpEd Published in Regional Publications

For the past four years, the Department of Labor has dedicated a week for businesses, workers, educators, and other community leaders to recognize the role of apprenticeships and other work-based training models in developing a highly-skilled workforce for job creators in the 21st century economy.

Moving forward, Delta communities must rethink how they can better position themselves in an increasingly competitive market for capital investment. No longer are Delta states only competing with their domestic neighbors. Delta communities are now competing in a global market where the availability of a highly skilled, productive workforce is becoming as attractive to firms as low-cost land and product inputs.

Click here to read the entire OpEd.

The piece was published in The Jonesboro Sun (AR), The Southern Illinoisan, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis), The Jackson Sun (TN) and The New-Star (Monroe, LA).

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