Delta Regional Authority
December 04, 2020  
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Delta News Round-up

A Message from the Federal Co-Chairman | DRA Invests $1.6 Million through Delta Workforce Grant Program | DRA Celebrates National Rural Health Day

A Message from the Federal Co-Chairman

As 2020 comes to an end, I am confident in saying that there is universal anticipation for 2021 to begin.  Obviously, everyone has been affected adversely by the COVID pandemic this year.  However, I would be remiss if I did not reflect back on some of the positive work accomplished in 2020 by the Delta Regional Authority.

Perhaps one of the achievements I am most proud of is DRA’s continued work to support industry-led workforce development throughout the Delta and Alabama Black Belt.  Investing in the human capital necessary to strengthen the Delta’s workforce means equipping the next generation of skilled workers with industry-led workforce development, and in 2020 DRA continued to invest in innovative programs who will strengthen our region’s talent pipelines.  This week, DRA announced over $1.6 million in grant funding to 13 programs and initiatives through the Delta Workforce Grant Program (DWP).  This investment prioritizes supporting industry-led workforce training, building collaborative talent pipelines, supporting or enhancing industry clusters, and accelerating local or regional economic development, especially in communities and regions that have been negatively impacted by economic transition.

DRA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission, also announced a $14.5 million investment through the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative.  WORC grants support industry-led workforce training and education programs with innovative, sustainable strategies providing needed career, training, and support services to eligible individuals.  By emphasizing the partnership with local industries, these programs will assist in meeting workforce challenges and industry needs currently underserved by other resources in the Delta.

In September, DRA announced a $27.9 million investment through the States’ Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP) and Community Infrastructure Fund (CIF).  The 94 economic development investment projects will provide funding to improve water and sewer systems, build access roads and repair existing transportation infrastructure, expand broadband services, develop industry-led workforce training programs, and support crucial healthcare services in communities throughout the DRA footprint.  

The Delta Leadership Institute graduated 30 Executive Academy fellows, and I am incredibly proud of this class.  The 2020 fellows demonstrated great resiliency, as the DLI program was moved to a virtual platform mid-year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  DRA health initiatives also made great strides this year, and among the many upcoming projects, our staff is busy working with the Department of Defense planning next summer’s Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission in the Delta region.

All of this could not have happened without the hard work of the DRA staff.  I am luck to work with such smart, passionate, dedicated individuals who each day strive to make the Delta region a better place for the 10 million residents in all 252 counties and parishes of the DRA region.  This year has been challenging, and yet rewarding.  I am blessed to call the Delta home and am honored to work amongst the talented men and women of the DRA.

DRA Invests $1.6 Million through Delta Workforce Grant Program

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) announced a $1,687,013 investment into 13 programs within the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions through the Delta Workforce Grant Program (DWP).  DWP supports programs and initiatives that expand job training and re-employment opportunities, align workforce and economic development strategies, create sustainable talent pipelines, establish or enhance locally/regionally significant public-private partnerships, and support enhanced workforce productivity through innovative programming.

“As our economy continues to recover, it is important to create ecosystems that support industry-driven workforce development,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell.  “The awarded programs have committed to building a skilled workforce in the Delta by collaborating with industry partners to develop innovative strategies that will ultimately strengthen the region’s economic outlook.”

Grants ranging from $76,800 to $150,000 were awarded to industry-driven workforce development programs and initiatives in six DRA states.  Eligible applicants demonstrated at least one employer partner seeking to hire more skilled workers in a high-demand industry sector and will aid communities particularly hard hit by industrial downsizing, business closures, and job losses as a result of the public health and economic crisis.  To complement this funding opportunity, DRA will offer grantees post-award technical assistance to ensure projects are effectively and sustainably implemented.  

This year’s DWP grant recipients include:

Restore Hope, Inc. | Little Rock, AR:  Restore Hope, Inc. will use DRA funding to establish a recovery-to-work program in White County for individuals affected by substance use disorder. The investment is projected to train 16 individuals for high-demand careers in the metal fabrication industry.  
DRA Investment: $130,000

Southeast Arkansas College | Pine Bluff, AR:  Southeast Arkansas College will use DRA funding to establish a certificate program in Supply Chain Transportation Technology to prepare program participants for commercial truck licensure. The investment is projected to train 45 individuals for high-demand careers in the transportation and logistics industry.  
DRA Investment: $150,000

Green River Area Development District | Owensboro, KY: The Hire to Operate (H2O) project will use DRA funding to support the Kentucky Rural Water Association’s Registered Apprenticeship Program. Apprentices will become certified Water/Wastewater Systems Operation Specialists through Related Technical Instruction and on-the-job training. H2O will elevate the required skills to meet progressing technology standards and create a talent pipeline for local utilities to replenish the qualified pool of operators. The investment is projected to train ten individuals in Henderson, McLean, Union, and Webster counties.
DRA Investment: $150,000

West Kentucky Community & Technical College | Paducah, KY: West Kentucky Community & Technical College will use DRA funding to support its LPN-to-RN Accelerated Bridge program.  The program will pair an online preparatory course with a simulation lab and mentoring to improve exam pass rates, helping participants to complete the RN program in as little as one year.  This ultimately will alleviate a critical shortage of RNs entering the workforce while also improving employment opportunities, earning potential, and long-term employment.  The investment is projected to train up to 45 LPNs with advanced nursing education.
DRA Investment: $106,580

Research Park Corporation | Baton Rouge, LA: Research Park Corporation will use DRA funding to expand Apprenti Louisiana, a nationally recognized registered apprenticeship program. The expansion will develop apprenticeship programs for 13 new employer partners within 57 parishes to meet the growing demand for tech talent across Louisiana.  The investment is projected to train up to 48 individuals. 
DRA Investment: $149,983

Nicholls State University | Thibodaux, LA: Nicholls State University will use DRA funding to provide enhanced training and support activities to a regional workforce aligned with a state, regional, and community economic development strategy as well as leverage partner resources with grant funding to expand training capacity, create a sustainable program, and increase cybersecurity knowledge. The investment is projected to train up to 147 incumbent, displaced, civilian, and redundant workers in cybersecurity/cyber-defense.
DRA Investment: $150,000

University of Holy Cross | New Orleans, LA: The University of Holy Cross, in partnership with Delgado Community College, will use DRA funding to support the growing food service and manufacturing sector by providing scholarship support for culinary professionals working toward an accelerated Bachelor of Science degree in Culinology®.  The investment is projected to train at least 10 individuals.
DRA Investment: $150,000

Griot Arts | Clarksdale, MS: Griot Arts will use DRA funding to provide a 16-week job training program that will establish an internship-to-job pipeline for local employers. The program will reduce the fiscal burden internships create for employers while preparing the future workforce for sustainable careers.  The investment is projected to train up to 35 individuals.
DRA Investment: $127,300

Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation | Portageville, MO: The Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation will use DRA funding to provide apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and agricultural entrepreneurial opportunities to meet the identified workforce needs of the agribusiness and agriculture-adjacent industries. The investment is projected to train up to 50 individuals throughout six counties in Southeast Missouri.
DRA Investment: $150,000

Missouri State University – West Plains | West Plains, MO: Missouri State University – West Plains will use DRA funding to purchase needed equipment for advanced workforce training in robotics. The investment is projected to train 50-75 individuals, including dislocated workers, new entrants in the workforce, incumbent workers, and underrepresented groups such as women, veterans, minority groups, and individuals with disabilities.
DRA Investment: $94,880

ProGeny Place | Memphis, TN: ProGeny Place, in coordination with The GradUS Project, will use DRA funding to enroll domestic violence victims into a newly designed, four-week Food-Based Manufacturing and Distribution industry certification program at Southwest Tennessee Community College.  The investment is projected to train 20 individuals. 
DRA Investment: $102,410

Rural Health Association of Tennessee | Decaturville, TN: The Rural Health Association of Tennessee will use DRA funding to create a “pre-apprenticeship” program for nursing assistants and nursing aids designed to help alleviate the regional nursing shortage.  The investment is projected to train up to 500 individuals.
DRA Investment: $149,060

theCO | Jackson, TN: theCO will use DRA funding to launch the Dev Catalyst Alumni Program, which will support workforce readiness training, develop a portfolio showcase, establish a peer mentorship network, and bridge connections to regional job and internship opportunities in computer science, web development, and data management.  The investment is projected to train up to 1,800 individuals.
DRA Investment: $76,800

Additional information about DWP, including important dates and resources, is available at

DRA Celebrates National Rural Health Day

On Thursday, November 19th, the Delta Regional Authority celebrated National Rural Health Day by highlighting DRA programs and initiatives working to support access to healthcare for the 10 million residents who call the Delta home.  Since 2018, DRA has invested over $3.3 million on 15 projects to update rural medical facilities and partnered on over $6.3 million in healthcare related workforce development.  

Last month, DRA Chairman Chris Caldwell and DRA staff joined military personnel for Innovative Readiness Training Medical Mission Initial Planning Meetings (IPM) in Lake Village, AR; Greenville, MS; and Lake Providence, LA.

Innovative Readiness Training is a collaborative program that leverages military contributions and community resources to multiply value and cost savings for participants.  Communities typically provide materials and basic services, while military units contribute personnel and training resources.  By utilizing their extensive resources, the military is able to meet some of the region’s most urgent health needs.  IRT missions produce mission ready forces, civil-military partnerships, and stronger communities by providing quality healthcare services to communities.

Delta Regional Authority is proud to partner in the tri-state Delta Wellness Mission scheduled for July 2021.  This mission will bring medical, dental, and optical care to Delta residents in need of quality healthcare at no cost to the patients.  DRA works closely with Delta communities and the Department of Defense to assist with the application process as well as planning and implementation for the two-week medical missions.  

DRA implements two additional programs specifically focused on improving healthcare access and health systems within the Delta.  The Delta Doctors program works with the State Department to allow foreign physicians trained in the U.S. to work in medically underserved areas or health professional shortage areas within the DRA footprint for three years through a J-1 visa waiver. Last year alone, DRA recommended 160 physicians for placement within the Delta region through this program. 

In collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration and the National Rural Health Resource Center, DRA enhances health care delivery in the Delta through intensive, in-depth and long-term technical assistance to rural hospitals and medical facilities. The Delta Region Community Health Systems Development Program (DRCHSD) supports capacity building for quality improvement, telehealth and integration of social services, helping hospitals increase financial viability and operational efficiency.  

If interested in applying for DRCHSD or to be an IRT community, please contact DRA Health Programs Manager Christina Wade at  

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Delta Regional Authority

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