Delta Regional Authority
December 08, 2014  
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Delta Digest

Welcome to Delta Digest, your monthly summary of news from the Delta region. We are pleased to introduce a new look which you will soon see on our website. Comments welcome at



Chairman's Briefing

Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Seizing the opportunity to strengthen rural small businesses and entrepreneurs

The most difficult opportunity to pinpoint is sometimes the one that’s right in front of you. And in every rural town across the Mississippi River Delta region there is an opportunity, namely, an economic opportunity, that all of us need to do a better job at seeing: helping small business owners and entrepreneurs access affordable capital. As we celebrated yet another Small Business Saturday two weeks ago, the importance of small businesses to our communities has never been more prevalent in the media and our society. But we most go beyond this awareness and provide direct support and capital to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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SEDAP Project Highlight


DRA, state Governors announce SEDAP 2014 investments in infrastructure, health access

Chairman Masingill joined with state and local officials to announce the 2014 SEDAP awards in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri in a series of conference calls that included each state's local media, planning and development officials, and state and community leaders. The DRA investments in these four states totaled $5.3 million and leveraged an additional $17 million in public and private investment that will enhance water and sewer infrastructure, roads, workforce training, entrepreneurial development, and health care access for Delta communities.

See all of the 2014 SEDAP investments here >

States' Corner


Bourbon Bonanza: Kentucky’s Bourbon Industry Smashes Records

Kentucky is widely known across the globe as the home of bourbon, and the industry is thriving now more than ever. In fact, more than 5 million barrels of bourbon and other whiskeys are currently aging in Kentucky – the state’s highest inventory in the past 40 years. The supply is up to meet the skyrocketing worldwide demand, and the state’s economy is reaping the benefits. A recent study shows that in the past two years, bourbon distilleries have had a 67 percent increase in gross sales and a 77 percent increase in overall employment to more than 15,000 workers. And in the next five years, distilleries plan to spend $630 million in capital investment, creating more jobs and increasing tax revenue by the millions. The numbers don’t lie: bourbon is booming in the Bluegrass state.

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Delta Distinguished


Waller sees banks of the Mississippi as harbor for small business

Gordon Waller's family has nurtured their Missouri community through their bank for more than a century. But it is the future that drives him and inspires him. Waller's latest project, the Missouri Innovation Corporation, holds the promise of economic growth through local, state and federal partnerships that help grow small businesses and recognize the value of our rich Delta assets.

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Small Business Spotlight


Hernandez Consulting LLC builds New Orleans as it builds itself

In the tough world of business startups, a company that withstands the trials and challenges of its early years may seem to have it made. But as businessman Alex Hernandez can attest, even the owner of a thriving company can occasionally overlook key needs. Hernandez worked with Louisiana's Small Business Development Center to shore up weak spots and ensure sustainability for his company's future.

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DRA Salutes Illinois Board Member

Bill Stanhouse

Stanhouse leaving Illinois DCEO after many years of service to southern Illinois

Each member of the Delta Regional Authority's Board of Governors selects a Cabinet-level representative to interact with the agency and advise the Chairmen of their state's needs and issues. Bill Stanhouse, regional manager of Illinois' Office of Regional Economic Development, has filled this role for Governor Pat Quinn and the people of Illinois since 2012. After years with Illinois DCEO and working in economic development, Bill is transitioning to the private sector to work with DuPont in Alabama. "Bill Stanhouse brought a wealth of experience to the table that has been extremely helpful to me and the Board," said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. “His expertise in economic development and working within state government provided excellent guidance for our efforts in Illinois.”

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Regional Workforce Development News

Greater Memphis Alliance for Competitive Workforce announced to address major needs of Delta business and industry, workers

On November 24, Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell joined regional leadership in announcing the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, an offshoot of Memphis EDGE as part of the Memphis/Shelby County Regional Economic Development Plan. The initiative--to be led by Dr. Glen Fenter--is charged with crafting a pipeline of skilled workers through improved alignment of education programs with business and industry needs. The initiative's goals and strategies align directly with the DRA's Reimagining the Delta Workforce policy framework of reimagining readiness, reconnecting adult learners and disconnected youth, and realigning resources. DRA's Chairman Masingill said, "The Alliance is a great next step for Memphis in building a strong pipeline of workers that supports the needs of Delta businesses and provides increased opportunity for economic development in our Region. DRA is proud to support the work of GMACW; we look forward to working with Dr. Fenter and his team in their next steps."

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Look Ahead:

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Regional News:

  • Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce announced to boost regional skills and training alignment
  • Purchase Area Development District (KY) recognized as top performing certified development companies for 504 loan program
  • Kaffman Foundation publishes "Sources of Economic Hope: Women's Entrepreneurship" report
  • Presentations from Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership conference now available
  • Arkansas SBTDC announces small business classes through April 2015
  • $9 Million Available to Support Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development Models
  • Dept. of Education announces up to $7.1M for Performance Partnership Pilots Program | Deadline January 8, 2015
  • Rural Health Network Development Planning Program applications available | Deadline January 9, 2015
  • Build Health Challenge seeks proposals for improving community health outcomes | Application deadline January 16, 2015
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    Delta Regional Authority

    236 Sharkey Avenue - Suite 400
    Clarksdale, MS 38614
    (662) 624-8600