DRA, USDA Invest Over $200,000 in Rural Mississippi to Support Economic Development

May 10, 2018

CLARKSDALE, Miss. – The Delta Regional Authority (DRA), through a program partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program, today announced it will invest more than $200,000 to support job-training efforts in several Mississippi Delta communities. The announcement highlights support for rural communities during National Economic Development Week.

“This partnership with USDA is focused on economic development and helping create jobs in rural communities,” said DRA Chairman Chris Caldwell. “These investments are being unveiled during Economic Development Week, which shares the common goals of DRA to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and improve the quality of life in communities. We’re investing in two initiatives that will enhance workers’ skills and help create jobs in multiple communities in Mississippi.”

The B. F. Smith Foundation in Stoneville, Miss. will receive $113,736 to expand into additional counties, including Bolivar, Coahoma, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica, Washington and Yazoo.  The investment aims to improve adult literacy and employment prospects in the Delta through a partnership with Delta Council, an economic development organization representing 18 counties in Northwest Mississippi. 

The B. F. Smith Foundation and Delta Council will work together to identify community leaders who can help attract and retain recruits for the program. They also will collaborate to provide a seamless transition for participants to enter job-training programs and establish links to employment agencies.

Partner organizations providing training programs include universities, community colleges and workforce training centers.  These organizations will develop entry-level skills or enhance client skills to make them more marketable in the workplace. 

Hinds Community College will receive $80,000 for a River Barge Training Program based in Vicksburg, Miss., that 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.

In the current fiscal year, 150 trainees will be placed in full-time jobs. By next fiscal year, Hinds will increase training to 250-300 individuals to support the needs of industry.  Trainees completing the program will be immediately placed in full-time jobs. 

Strengthening Mississippi’s workforce has been one of my highest priorities,” said Governor Phil Bryant.  “That mission is especially critical in our Delta region. I am grateful to Delta Regional Authority, USDA Rural Development and everyone else involved in helping us with those efforts.”

Mississippi’s congressional delegation issued the following statements:

“With these targeted investments in job training and economic development, the Delta Regional Authority continues its tradition of supporting stronger communities in Mississippi,” U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said. “The grants announced today will make a difference and give more Mississippians opportunities to learn new skills, find meaningful work, and better provide for their families.”

 “Mississippi has been forward-thinking in its efforts to improve workforce training.  I’m please the Delta Regional Authority is making this investment to help train and prepare the workers we need today and in the future,” said U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

“DRA continues to make vital investments in the Second Congressional District,” said U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. “I am grateful for the agency’s focus on workforce development. We all know that literacy training and enhancing the job skills of our workforce will lead to better jobs for residents of the district and improve the economy of rural areas in our state.”

John Rounsaville, State Director for USDA Rural Development added, “The USDA is proud to partner with the DRA to support workforce opportunities for Mississippians. These outstanding projects will generate positive economic returns for individuals, communities, and businesses and exemplify the innovative partnerships we’re working to forge between government, institutions, and private sector job creators.”

Funding is through the Rural Community Assistance Program, which invests in communities and counties with a population of 50,000 or less, and supports programs and initiatives that directly help build capacity of rural residents and leaders to enhance their community’s economic opportunities.


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 more than $3.7 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 37,000 jobs, trained more than 3,700 workers for 21st Century jobs and provided water and sewer service to more than 66,000 residents since DRA was established. Learn more at dra.gov.


Andrew Moreau