DRA and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Unveil $1.7 Million Investment for Workforce Development

June 19, 2014

DRA Investments Will Strengthen Links between Education, Needed Skills, Workers and Jobs

DRA to Host Workforce Summits across Region, Bringing Together Key Stakeholders and Thought Leaders on Workforce Development

JACKSON, Miss. –Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and States’ Co-Chairman Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant today announced a $1.7M investment into enhancing the eight-state Delta region’s workforce development systems – strengthening the capacity for communities to build links between education centers, job-ready skills and job creators.

The new investment into the region’s workforce comes as a response to the recent report, The Future of the South: Re-Imagining Workforce Development, which outlines the challenges facing the Delta’s economic future and recommends that economic leaders reimagine their approach to training workers across the region.

In recognizing the importance of addressing the Delta’s workforce, this new investment will focus on technical assistance and capacity building for communities to align and connect various stakeholders in workforce development to strengthen the overall workforce system.

“Just like the flow of the Mississippi River, the Delta economy is constantly changing – and we need to change with it. Working with our state partners, we are committed to overhauling the way we train our workers and the way we identify the jobs of the future and connect our people to the skills they need,” said Christopher Masingill, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman. “This initiative is aimed at strengthening our workforce, encouraging lifelong learning, and increasing the standard of living in the region.”

“The first factor a company considers when planning a new location or expansion is the quality and availability of potential employees. Like the rest of the Delta, Mississippi has the one of the most willing workforces in the world, and we are continuing to invest resources in training and development, which in turn helps attract even more employment opportunities to our state,” said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said. “As States’ Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, I am proud to announce this investment in the Mississippi River Delta that will help build the region’s competitiveness and provide a great opportunity for the area’s job seekers.”

The Delta Regional Authority also announced that it will host a series of summits on “Reimagining the Delta Workforce” in each of the eight states in the region. The summits will be held in conjunction with the Governors of the eight states and will bring together business and industry, thought leaders and influential stakeholders to discuss and address the current state of workforce development in the Delta and each of the region’s eight states.

Future of the South: Re-imagining Workforce Development will be used as a framework for the summits’ conversations and strategy development for education and training systems. The new report acknowledges that the recession has amplified challenges in the Delta and identifies an increasingly competitive talent pool, changing life-cycles, and the rapid pace of the global marketplace as the driving forces behind the shifting workplace environment.  

The report outlines recommendations critical to improving the economic climate in the Delta including:

  • Strengthening the connection between education and job skills
  • Re-engaging adult-learners and disconnected youth through online learning opportunities and certificate programs
  • Creating a culture of lifelong learning from early childhood through adulthood

“There has been a major change in the composition of the workforce in the Delta in recent years,” said Ted Abernathy, Managing Partner, Economic Leadership LLC. “The distribution of jobs today is very different than a just a few years ago, and it is not just jobs that are changing but the skills required to do them as well.”

The summits will be held throughout the region to convene stakeholders from across each state to discuss challenges, learn about new strategies, and identify solutions for addressing the workforce needs of our region. The summits are scheduled to begin in Late July and run through September:

Reimagining the Delta Workforce Summits
(Tentative Dates and Locations)

Alabama Wednesday, July 23 Chatom Community Center Chatom, AL
Tennessee Monday, August 11 Dyersburg State Community College Dyersburg, TN
Arkansas Wednesday, August 13 University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff Pine Bluff, AR
Illinois Wednesday, August 20 John A. Logan College Carterville, IL
Missouri Monday, August 25 Three Rivers Community College Poplar Bluff, MO
Mississippi Monday, September 8 Coahoma County Community College Clarksdale, MS
Louisiana Thursday, September 18 Nicholls State University Thibodaux, LA
Kentucky Tuesday, September 23 Madisonville Community College Madisonville, KY

“Encouraging everyone to have the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace is vital to creating an environment where not only workers, but businesses can thrive,” said Jay Moon, CEO and President of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association.  “We look forward to working with the Delta Regional Authority to make our workers and our businesses increasingly competitive, and ultimately, successful.”

The federal Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Workforce Development Initiative will be released in anticipation of the first workforce summit in late July and will at that time be available at DRA.gov.

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About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta. Through twelve cycles of federal investment, the Authority is helping to create and retain more than 41,000 jobs and has leveraged $2.7 billion in other public and private investment.

Contact: Spencer Lucker
slucker@dra.gov, 202-434-4842