Conferences Aim To Make Impoverished Delta Region Competitive

Jul 12, 2016

File photo of Chris Masingill, co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority.
Credit Talk Business & Politics

Local leaders in Arkansas are getting new training from the Delta Regional Authority and the International Economic Development Council to make better use of existing resources. A two-day conference in North Little Rock wrapped up Tuesday. It's one of 32 being held in the eight-state Delta region.

Chris Masingill, federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, says the workshops are part of an effort to get information out to officials about how to maximize local efforts in economic development.

“This is an area that we constantly get feedback on,” says Masingill. “More information… to provide the leadership of our communities [with] the understanding on how to move their communities forward. We also recognize that we need to make sure our communities are resilient, so they have the ability to put their communities in the best possible position to protect their economy.”

The two-day workshops have taken place in eight states across the Delta region—Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Each state hosts four workshops: two on economic development, and two on disaster recovery and resilience. 

The move to host workshops and training is influenced by the lack of full-time officials in the Delta. Masingill says elected officials in smaller communities are among those who will be helped most by the training.

“Many of our counties and communities don’t have paid, full-time, practicing economic development professionals and we need to continue to put resources on the table to give our local community leaders information they need to help grow their economy.”

The training sessions are free, and Masingill says that in the 27 workshops thus far, there have been close to 500 attendees. In Arkansas, he says there were about 80 attendees.