Delta Regional Authority
October 11, 2016  
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Delta News Round-up

Summer Round-Up: DEN launches 2016 Delta Challenge | EDA tours Delta investments | Louisiana flood assistance | MMBC Continuum Economic Development Forum | Ouachita Terminal Port in West Monroe | DLI 2016 Executive Academy graduation | Tricentennial Wellness clinic | U.S. Secretary of Ag on opioid epidemic

DEN launches 2016 Delta Challenge pitch competitions for entrepreneurs

The DEN launched its third year of the Delta Challenge at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in North Little Rock, Arkansas with partners the Venture Center and GLO Airlines. A record number of sixteen participants pitched their idea or small business to a panel of judges who then selected the top four plus one alternate. The winning fellows were:

Winners of the Delta Challenge Pitch Competitions receive $40,000 in assistance courtesy of The Idea Village and will participate in intensive technical workshops to prepare them to pitch to major investors at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) 2017 hosted by IBERIABANK.

The Delta Entrepreneurship Network (DEN) is a competitive fellowship program that identifies entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship support organizations in the Delta region, nurtures their talent, and grows them into innovative drivers of their local and regional economies.

The remaining Delta Challenge Pitch Competitions will be held in the following locations:

  • November 1 - Ruston, Louisiana - Louisiana Tech University 
  • November 18 - Cape Girardeau - Codefi

For more information, please visit

Register for a Delta Challenge near you >

EDA tours investments across Delta region

Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Erskine of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill conducted the Investing in Manufacturing partnerships (IMCP) tour -- an extensive survery of joint EDA and DRA investments to boost economic development across the Delta region. Significant stops along the tour included:

Memphis, Tennesee: 

  • The Metro Memphis Export Alliance, an export industry association that provides training, marketing, business counseling, and trade strategies to export companies in the Memphis Metro area
  • New Memphis Chamber initiatives for minority and women-owned business development
  • Memphis Works, an interactive career development website and mobile app that directly links job seekers and students to employers, career conselors, and real jobs
  • Smith & Nephew, a world leader in joint replacement systems for knees, hips, and shoulders with a factory in Metro Memphis which supplies hundreds of jobs to the area

Jonesboro, Arkansas:

  • Arkansas State University's (ASU) cutting-edge Delta Center for Economic Development, which features programs for Bloomberg business management certification, advanced medical training, and a biosciences facility with incubation labs for agricultural studies and food processing

Cleveland, Mississippi:

  • Grammy Museum Mississippi, the first Grammy musuem built outside of Los Angeles, this interactive facitility is a musical and cultural gem located on the campus of Delta State University, home of the Delta Music Institute

Atmore, Alabama:

  • Muskogee Technology, an aerospace, defense, and heavy machinery factory owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Muskogee Technology and is a Certified Small Disadvantaged Business which provides hundreds of jobs and boosts economic growth across the region.

The DRA is thankful to the EDA for being one of our strongest partners and for consistently working with us to invest in businesses and cultural heritage sites that promote economic growth, job creation, and tourism in the Delta region.

Learn more about the EDA's investments in the Delta Region >

Assistance available for Louisiana flood victims

The DRA is firmly committed to assisting our member states in times of crisis. In the wake of the Louisiana flooding, Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, the Governor of Louisiana's designee Leslie Durham, and DRA staff conducted an aerial survey of the persisting damage to Baton Rouge.

Residents of Lousiana still affected by this summer's floods can visit our Disaster Recovery and Relief page for a list of valuable resources, including how to file a distaster assistance claim, where to find shelter and donation sites, and more.

Watch the live aerial video >

MMBC Continuum supports minority-owned businesses in Memphis

The Mid-South Minority Business Council's Economic Development Forum (EDF) is one of the Mid-South's largest economic development conferences, bringing together major corporations, public sector agencies, minority and female business leaders, and other community stakeholders. Small Business Administration (SBA) figures show that 67% of all national job growth between 2009-2105 was created by small businesses, and almost 10 million of those small businesses are owned by women with a third owned by minorities.

Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill joined a panel at the 2016 EDF to discuss the importance of supporting women and minority-owned businesses in the Greater Memphis area and across the Delta region. According to Masingill, "We need to realize that human capital is an economic development strategy. So lt's make sure that we are investing in people. One way to do that is to invest in people's small businesses and ideas."

Other panelists included Mayor Mark Luttrell of Shelby County; Douglas Scarboro, Sr. Branch Executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis – Memphis Branch; David T. Popwell, Chief Operating Officer of First Tennessee Bank; and Gary Shorb, CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

The Mid-South Minority Business Council (MMBC) Continuum is a non-profit organization based in Memphis, Tennessee that provides training to minority and women-owned businesses and connects them with the Mid-South’s largest corporations to help them grow into their full potential.

Woman or minority small business owner? See the services offered by the MMBC Continuum >

Ouachita Terminal Port supports transportation, economic growth in West Monroe

Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and Louisiana DRA designee Leslie Durham toured the Ouachita Terminal in West Monroe to examine the results from an initial investment made over 12 years ago.

The Ouachita Terminal is a fully intermodal port serving the region in a 100+ mile radius, making it vital to the transportation infrastructure and economy of the Monroe/West Monroe area. The terminal boasts 9,000 feet of heavy rail on-site and processes over 500 tons of cargo per week.

One of the DRA's main missions is the development of a modern and easily accessible transportation infrastructure throughout the Delta region, which is crucial for economic growth and attracting new businesses. Including the investment in the Ouachita Terminal, the DRA has currently leveraged $1.14 billion in public and private investment into transportation infrastructure in Delta communities to help create and retain more than 15,000 jobs.

Watch Chairman Masingill's visit to the Ouachita terminal >

DLI 2016 Executive Academy graduates 50 Delta community leaders

Fifty community leaders successfully completed the year-long Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy, a program of the Delta Regional Authority. The Executive Academy is a training program that brings together business and community leaders from each of the eight states of the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions for a collaborative leadership development experience, emphasizing regional approaches to growing local economies and creating opportunities for the people of the Delta region.

Each graduate completed leadership development coursework and field studies in the year-long program that included five sessions in Delta communities and one session in Washington, DC.

“For our communities to grow and support strong economies that create opportunities for Delta residents, we need local leaders that understand the local and regional challenges that we face as well as the networks and resources that can help identify solutions and address these challenges,” Chairman Masingill said. “The Delta Leadership Institute’s dynamic programming and ever-growing alumni network are helping to meet this need and empower our region’s leaders to make the Delta a better place to live and work.”

In addition to the program certificate, participants graduate with an industry-recognized certification in Crucial Conversations. Present for the ceremony were Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall, and Ted Townsend, Chief of Staff for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and Governor Haslam’s designee to the DRA Board.

See the DLI graduates from each of the 8 Delta states >

Tricentennial Wellness clinic concludes summer 2016 IRT missions

August's Tricentennial Wellness clinic in Natchez, Mississippi concluded the Delta Regional Authority's 2016 Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) missions in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense. Over a 12-day period, hundreds of servicemen and women served more than 3,000 patients from Louisiana and Mississippi, performing over 8,500 procedures valued at nearly $1.4 million in savings to the local communities.

This summer, the DRA hosted military medical missions in West Memphis, AR, western Kentucky, and Natchez, MS., providing no-cost medical services to uninsured or underinsured residents, including non-emergency medical treatments and screenings, dental cleanings, fillings, and tooth extractions, eye exams and single-vision prescription glasses. These clinics also conducted sports physicals and provided information about local healthcare services, public health programs, and other wellness resources.

Over the course of our three IRT medical missions, a total of over 14,000 people were treated, with more than 37,000 medical procedures performed, translating to over $3.4 million in value. Watch these video testimontials to see the candid stories of the Delta residents who benefited from these no-cost health and wellness services.

Find out how to bring an IRT mission to your community in 2017 >

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, AFCC addresses opioid epidemic in Missouri

The use of opioids including prescription drugs and heroin is a growing problem in Delta states. To address the negative impact of opioid misuse in local communities, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack attended a town hall meeting in Columbia, Missouri to discuss the state's expanding drug epidemic.

DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall and USDA Rural Development's Missouri state office hosted Secretary Vilsack and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill along with a panel of local experts. This panel included Peter Lyskowski, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services; Judge Christine Carpenter of the Boone County Adult Drug Court; Leslie Porth, Senior Vice President of the Missouri Hospital Association; and Angela Bonine, Legislative Advocate/Training Coordinator for ACT Missouri, who answered questions from concerned Missouri citizens.

From 1993 to the 2013, opioid use has increased by 400%, exceeding 250 million prescriptions per year. In 2014 alone, opioid overdose and misuse accounted for more than 28,000 deaths nationwide. The DRA is committed to helping combat this growing danger to the health of Delta residents.

Secretary Vilsack urged all State Health Officers to use the resources and opportunities provided through their Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) agencies in their substance misuse prevention efforts. 

Read the official USDA announcement >

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