Louisiana, Alabama Communities Receive Funding Assistance from DRA, Federal Partners

June 14, 2018

Rural Areas Focus on Downtown Improvements to Boost Growth

MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA REGION  – Two rural communities in Alabama and Louisiana will each receive a $15,000 seed grant from the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) through Healthy Places for Healthy People (HP2), a federal initiative that brings together community leaders and healthcare partners to create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant downtowns and neighborhoods.

Bunkie, LA., and Livingston, AL., will invest these funds into their local health and wellness goals in coordination with technical assistance provided by federal partners: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.

“This is a great example of federal agencies collaborating with local communities and using their existing infrastructure to enhance the health and well-being of the workforce,” said DRA Chairman Chris Caldwell. “At the same time, we are enhancing the long-term economic growth prospects in these rural areas.”

The City of Bunkie, Move Bunkie Forward, and Bunkie General Hospital plan to integrate main street revitalization strategies with health improvement efforts, seeking greater economic stability and to improve the health of residents.  

The City of Livingston and University of West Alabama will collaborate to develop health and wellness initiatives in downtown Livingston, the Sumter County seat, in an effort to improve access to healthcare and healthy food, provide economic development opportunities, and support downtown revitalization efforts.

“EPA is committed to helping communities create healthy, thriving places to live, work, and raise families” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We look forward to working with these local partners on plans that can support revitalization while improving health and protecting the environment.”

In addition to DRA’s investment, each community will participate in two-day workshops with a technical assistance team that will help prepare an implementation plan and identify potential resources from the participating federal agencies to support implementation of the projects. The technical assistance team will provide guidance, direction and collaboration to help each community overcome its challenges. DRA’s funding will support implementation of the plans developed from the workshops.

Both Bunkie and Livingston face similar issues: declining populations, high dropout rates and poor health. Each also is committed to making downtown revitalization the key to building a healthier community and promoting economic growth.

“We are very excited about the Healthy Places initiative. It will definitely complement several other areas, such as our new major downtown sidewalk project that was completed in the spring of 2018, our new exercise area located at our walking track,” said Bunkie Mayor Mike Robertson. “It will also be supportive in the development of our master plan for the downtown area. One of our current projects, the Move Bunkie Forward program, an eat healthy initiative, will wind down at the end of 2018. By merging several programs, we will help our health improvement efforts, benefiting our citizens now and in the future. We look forward to partnering up with the fall seminars, tours and discussions on health places.”

“The City of Livingston has for many years enjoyed a supportive town and gown relationship, and we have seen so many benefits over the years joining forces to boost our community,” said Mayor Tom Tartt.  “Having the movers and shakers of our community at the table with local government and city administration as well as the University [of West Alabama], we can have a wide-angle view of our community’s needs, interests, abilities and resources and align those to benefit the greater good.”


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.

Contact: Andrew Moreau