DRA Round-Up: March 2012

Bringing Jobs back to America

February Jobs Report announcement shows continued trend of economic growth

MISSISSIPPI DELTA - This past week President Obama and the Department of Labor announced that the private sector had created 233,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent. Furthermore, the announcement highlighted a six-month total of 1.3 million jobs created since September 2011. This is the highest figure for six-month job creation in almost six years.

Most recently, the Labor Department has announced that jobless claims through last week have dropped by 5,000 to 348,000, the lowest level since February of 2008. These figures are evidence of a steady increase over the past two years in job growth with a total of 3.9 million new jobs created during that period. The economy has shown to be moving in the right direction with continued job growth  and private investment in American communities.

“March's announcement about February employment is good news for American small businesses and good news for Delta workers. These growing - and hiring - small businesses are creating the good-paying jobs that are turning our economy around. We need to continue this growth - investing in entrepreneurs and helping them access the capital they need to turn ideas into businesses. That is key to economic growth for the Delta Region and the United States."

In recent months, numerous programs have been implemented to create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship, support American small businesses, and increase economic development in our communities. More information on these initiatives can be found here.

Idea Village encourages entrepreneurs to thrive in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Last week,New Orleans entrepreneurs and business experts from around the world gathered to advance the local economy and gain skills in taking the business community to the next level. Now in its fourth year, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week held events, trainings and networking opportunities for the city’s growing community of entrepreneurs. Idea Village says they developed the event “to celebrate and support the network of talent that has enabled New Orleans to become a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

The week-long event allows blossoming entrepreneurs to enhance their skills through trainings that cover accounting and business management, fundraising, and advertising, among others. There are opportunities for networking with some of the world’s business leaders and top innovators as well as special challenges giving emerging ideas a forum for recognition and support in their respective industry.

The week culminates with the 1st Annual Big Idea challenge featuring 19 entrepreneurs and their innovative businesses, vying for $100,000 in funding and important publicity. The winning business was
SOLarchitect Studio, which created a free, web-based tool that provides American homeowners information on how much solar energy their home could produce, how much solar panels would cost them, and how long to expect to see a return on their investment. Congratulations to SOLarchitect, which is set to launch this summer!

The Delta Regional Authority is a proud partner of Idea Village and the 2012 New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Founded in 2000 by a group of local entrepreneurs interested in changing the direction of New Orleans’ long-declining economic environment, Idea Village has helped the city cultivate a local focus on innovation and atmosphere of success. The organization and city leadership is proud to point out that New Orleans has recently been named the “#1 Brain Magnet in the Country” by Forbes, the “#2 Best City for Jobs” and the “Coolest Startup City in America.”

Idea Village invested over $1 million this past week in resources to the participating entrepreneurs and over its decade of support has assisted in the creation of over 1,006 jobs and contributed $83 million in annual revenue for New Orleans companies.

For more information about Idea Village and last week’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, visit Idea Village's website.

Delta’s Distinguished

Kentucky: Judge Executive emphasizes economic development for Carlisle County

Considered a champion of economic development for his community, Judge Greg Terry has contributed leadership and enthusiasm to the rural communities of Carlisle County, Kentucky. Terry is an active leader in the community in which he was born and raised, serving as secretary of the Purchase Area Development District. He was appointed as County Judge Executive four years ago before which he served Carlisle County for ten years as Road Supervisor. In 2009 he graduated from the Delta Leadership Institute, becoming a part of an important network of leaders through the Delta region. Local news reporter, Michael Toon, recognized that “the county has made great strides in actively pursuing grants for tourism, improvement in 911 communication, and [the county’s] infrastructure” since Judge Terry assumed his position as Judge Executive.

Last year Judge Terry helped lead the opening of the new Carlisle County Judicial Center. The former courthouse was leveled in a fire in 2007 and in less than four years community leaders banded together and opened a new 40,000 square foot courthouse. The Judicial Center currently is home to county administration and judicial functions.

Judge Terry has also been influential in raising money for the renovation of the KentuckyCare health clinic in Bardwell, Kentucky, which provides services to people regardless of whether they have insurance. With the help of a $150,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority, Judge Terry was a key supporter of the health clinic’s first-ever renovation project. Judge Terry explained that “bringing a clinic [such as KYCare] to our hometown is great for a small town [like Bardwell]. The people should be proud of not just my work but the work that the community has been able to do.” The health clinic was reopened in January and is now able to provide medical services and health education programs to more than 4,000 patients in Carlisle and six other counties in western Kentucky.

“During these tough economic times, it’s hard to find spare funding for big projects,” said Terry. However, Judge Terry hopes to further develop Carlisle County through partnerships with the Great River Road Commission, the Ken-Tenn Organizations, and Kentucky Care. The county is currently planning to build a trail system for horse riding enthusiasts with the hope of expanding county tourism. There are also plans for an extension and ambulance services building.

A Delta Built to Last: Community Leaders from Delta Region Visit Washington, White House

A special White House Blog Post from Chairman Chris Masingill

WASHINGTON -- On March 1, leaders from across the Delta Region met with White House officials for a morning of conversations on issues facing the Delta Region including creating good-paying jobs, small business and entrepreneurship and supporting a Delta built to last. Hosted by the Delta Regional Authority and the White House Office of Public Engagement, our leadership group was in DC for the fourth session in their year-long Executive Academy.

The group engaged with White House leadership including Jon Carson (Office of Public Engagement), Doug McKalip (Rural Affairs) and Ari Matusiak (White House Business Council).  Thursday’s conversation is the final word of a week-long summit that included visits with Deputy Undersecretary Doug O’Brien (USDA Rural Development) and Assistant Secretary John Fernandez (Economic Development Administration) in his last official event before leaving his post as Assistant Secretary.  Academy participants also met with their respective Congressional Delegations.

To read the full White House blog post,
click here.

States’ Economic Development Advancement Program Project Highlight


Illinois: New equipment allows medical specialists to serve rural communities

ROSICLARE, IL - Hardin County General Hospital (HCGH) has recently expanded its tech capacity to include an Electrocardiogram (EKG) machine, MARS Holter monitor system, and Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) with the support of a Delta Regional Authority SEDAP grant. This new equipment will be used to evaluate cardiac patients and provide reports to the hospital’s cardiology team for prompt diagnosis.  HCGH does not have a full-time cardiologist; however, the MARS Holter monitor system allows the hospital’s cardiologist to review patient EKG reports, diagnose and prescribe treatment for patients despite being in another county or state.

The PACS system will streamline diagnostic testing results for the hospital staff of two general practitioners, a nurse practitioner, and physician assistant. MARS and PACS are a necessary step for Hardin County to keep pace with the growing trend towards electronic health monitoring and record-keeping. Hardin County General Hospital is a 25-bed critical access facility in Rosiclare, Illinois, and is the only hospital serving Hardin and Pope counties. “[We] are excited that this project was funded and this vital equipment can be put into service for our small rural counties,” said Alene Carr, Economic Development Coordinator for the Southeastern Illinois Regional Planning and Development Commission. The Authority provided 90% of the necessary funds for purchasing the new equipment.

Delta Regional Authority signs MOU with the Association of Small Business Development Centers

WASHINGTON -- The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) announced yesterday a new partnership aimed at establishing a framework for cooperation by and between the DRA and ASBDC. Officials with the two groups met yesterday to sign the MOU during ASBDC’s annual conference.

“We recognize that small businesses play a critical role in rural communities,” Chairman Masingill said. “The success of small businesses often relies on development centers and access to resources and training. This is an important partnership that will benefit small businesses across the region.”

To read the full article, click here.

Delta Regional Authority Announces Two New Staff Members in Clarksdale

Terri Hollingsworth
Chief Administrative Officer
Sheila Winters
Finance Administrator

The Delta Regional Authority is proud to announce that they have recently filled two positions in the Clarksdale office with outstanding people. After several months of searching and interviewing many qualified applicants, Terri Hollingsworth, of Arkansas, accepted the position of Chief Administrative Officer with the Delta Regional Authority. Terri and her son will be relocating from Little Rock and she will work in the Clarksdale office. As a member of the Delta Regional Authority’s senior management team, the CAO is fully accountable for all aspects of the DRA’s day-to-day operations. Terri comes to the Authority with several years of leadership experience and a background in economic development and business. We also recently brought on Ms. Sheila Winters, a native of Coahoma County, to serve as the DRA’s Finance Administrator. In this capacity, Ms. Winters will assist the Chief Administrative Officer with managing accounting operations to include budgets, financial reporting and maintaining systems and procedures for payments of DRA grants and administrative expenses.


Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration has announced a $15 million multi-agency Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenge to spur job creation and economic growth in distressed rural communities. This competition, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council.

Click Here to Read the Full Story

For program related questions about the Rural Jobs Accelerator Challenge, please e-mail Kemp Morgan at accelerator@dra.gov. The deadline for applications is May 9, 2012 and guidelines for submissions are accessible at www.DRA.gov


USDA Announces Assistance to Rural Communities and Residents Affected by Recent Tornadoes

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced comprehensive outreach efforts are underway to assess damage and assist rural Midwest and Southern communities in the wake of recent deadly storms.

"These storms struck the very heart of rural America," said Vilsack. "USDA regional and local staff members are on the front lines, have worked each day since the storms hit, and for many it's personal: they live and work alongside the victims. I've directed our expertise and resources be put to the fullest possible use."

To read full story, click here.

Small Business Spotlight

Missouri: Operation JumpStart graduate uses program to launch medical reporting software 

In early 2010, Philip Goggin found himself without a full-time job but determined to make something work. That something came to him at the East Missouri Action Agency where he saw a flyer for the state’s Operation JumpStart program.

Ready to learn how to take his venture with NarrativePRO, a streamline reporting program for EMS providers, to the next level, he registered for Operation JumpStart. Goggin completed the two months of trainings and in June 2010 received a fully funded grant of $5,000 to launch his business.

To read full story, click here.

King Biscuit, Highway 61 Blues Festivals Unveil Back-to-Back 2012 Schedule

September 29-30 Leland, Mississippi • October 4-6 Helena, Arkansas

WEST MEMPHIS, AR — An unprecedented partnership between the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, and the Highway 61 Blues Festival in Leland, Mississippi, offers an opportunity for blues enthusiasts worldwide to plan September 29-October 6 for a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Delta Blues.

Announced at the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, this pairing will enrich the experience for the thousands of blues fans expected to attend the festivals this fall. The King Biscuit Blues Festival, held on Columbus Day weekend for 27 years, is named for Helena’s renowned live blues radio program, “King Biscuit Time.” It celebrates the heritage of the town where blues greats like Sonny Boy Williamson and Pinetop Perkins once played every night of the week.

The Highway 61 Blues Festival will kick off the two-state celebration Saturday, September 29, in Leland, at the historic musicians’ corner beside the legendary blues highway for which the festival is named. Like Helena, Leland was once an entertainment hotbed, frequented by musicians who included guitarists Eugene Powell (Sonny Boy Nelson) and Charlie Booker.

To read full release and more details, click here



March 27, 2012

Health Mapping and Research Announcement

April 2012

State's Economic Development Assistance Program funding availability announcement

May 3-4, 2012

Delta Grassroots Caucus - Clinton Presidential Center Little Rock, AR

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Delta Regional
Board of Governors

Chris Masingill

Alternate Federal
Mike Marshall

State Co-Chairman
Governor Jay Nixon - Missouri
Mr. Bill Randall - Designee
Dr. Jon Hagler - Alternate

State of Alabama
Governor Robert Bentley
Mr. Jim Byard - Designee
Mrs. Bea Forniss - Alternate

State of Arkansas
Governor Mike Beebe
Mr. Steve Jones - Designee & Alternate

State of Illinois
Governor Pat Quinn
Mr. Larry Woolard - Designee & Alternate

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Governor Steve Beshear
Ms. Stacia Peyton - Designee & Alternate

State of Louisiana
Governor Bobby Jindal
Vacant - Designee
Mr. Doyle Robinson - Alternate

State of Mississippi
Governor Phil Bryant
Mr. Chris Champion - Designee & Alternate

State of Tennessee
Governor Bill Haslam
Mr. Paul Fassbender - Designee & Alternate

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