The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Agenda for Delta Conference by Zoom, Oct. 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Oct. 14 from 8:40 a.m. to 1:55 p.m. CENTRAL TIME

Posted on October 12, 2020 at 10:07 AM

The Delta Conference by Zoom Webinar begins tomorrow, Oct. 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and then Oct. 14 from 8:40 a.m. to 1:55 p.m. ALL TIMES ARE CENTRAL TIME.

This is the first and we hope the last time we have had to do a conference totally by Zoom due to the coronavirus.

ZOOM LINK

Link to Oct. 13 and Oct. 14 Greater Delta Region Conference by Zoom webinar:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HQG5xmpaSNGOqVai8KMjqg

Greater Delta Summit on the 20th Anniversary of the White House Conference on the Delta and the Grassroots Movement from the 1990s to the Present.

We are not “celebrating” the 20th anniversary of the White House Conference on the Delta in 2000, the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta regional movement, and the origins of the Delta Grassroots Caucus; rather, we are looking back at what has worked and where we still have serious challenges to develop policy ACTIONS for 2020 and beyond.

Please tune in to as much of the two-day conference as possible: We would expect people to take breaks occasionally, but we only have this opportunity once a year to gather so many influential and knowledgeable Delta leaders together, so we ask that you tune in to as much of the conference as possible.

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS NEWSLETTER

1) Short list of policy actions to urge Congress, states & other powers that be to act on now

2) AGENDA

3) Appreciation for Sponsors

4) Some key accomplishments and remaining serious challenges for 2020 and beyond, looking at the more than two decades of the Delta Regional Initiative

ADVOCACY TO THE POWERS THAT BE

This is the height of an election year, and while we do not make any endorsements, we want to weigh in on key issues to the federal, state and regional powers that be on community and economic issues for the 8-state Greater Delta.

SHORT LIST OF POLICY ACTIONS IN PANDEMIC–URGE YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, STATE OFFICIALS AND OTHER POWERS THAT BE TO ACT NOW

JOBS–First, job creation and retention initiatives, including Small Business, Labor, and other large-scale programs, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Empowerment Zones, New Markets Tax Credit and other initiatives, especially those promoting small business/entrepreneurialism. Women and minorities are being hit hardest by the economic and health impact of the pandemic.

Major infrastructure expansion to create jobs & repair deteriorating infrastructure–We need a major federal and state program of transportation, housing, broadband & other infrastructure to create jobs and repair our infrastructure. We’ve heard talk about this a long time and it’s time to DO IT.

Strong relief, unemployment benefits, and economic stimulus to see us through the recession. Data has shown that the Delta is suffering more from unemployment, food insecurity and other problems than the rest of the country. We must get the virus under control and the economy recovering first, and then we can cut back on the huge spending that has been necessary in the Covid-19 era.

Medicare, Medicaid expansion and other major health care programs need to be fully funded and supported during the pandemic. While most of our partners generally support Obamacare, certainly some would prefer other methods of health insurance expansion. But we need to keep those programs steady during the pandemic and we can consider changes after the health crisis has passed.

SNAP, Pandemic EBT and other major nutrition initiatives need to be strongly funded and supported during the spike in food insecurity from Covid-19. Delta states ranked at the bottom before the pandemic and now food insecurity is even worse.

AGENDA

Opening session—October 13, 2020, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m

Introduction—5 p.m. to 5:07, Lee Powell, Delta Caucus Director

5 p.m. to 5:40 p.m.–Big picture speakers on maintaining job growth during the pandemic

–5:10 to 5:20–Mayor Errick Simmons of Greenville, Mississippi, on his city’s efforts to deal with the economic and health impact of the pandemic

–5:32 to 5:38—Brad Cole, Executive Director, Illinois Municipal League

Hunger, Nutrition, Health and Poverty in the Pandemic

–5:38 to 5:46 –Lisa Church, Chief Advancement Officer, Southeast Missouri Food Bank, Sikeston, Missouri

–5:46 to 5:54–Leesa Freasier, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) Delta project on nutrition and obesity

–5:54 to 6:02—Tomiko Townley, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

–6:02 to 6:12—Troy Wells, CEO, Baptist Health, the largest health care organization in Arkansas

–6:12 to 6:20—Jimmy Cone and Johnny Pettus, project for in-door greenhouse produce farming projects for year-round production in volume, create jobs, and increase access to fresh, nutrition produce

Maintaining Education and workforce development during the pandemic—6:20– 7 p.m.

–Alan Gumbel, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, Memphis, Tennessee;

–Glendscene Williams, Director of Delta State University’s Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Research, Cleveland, Mississippi

–Professor Charity Smith, Philander Smith College in Little Rock;

Oct. 14 Session, 8:40 a.m. to 1:55 p.m.

Dialogue on Our Legacy regarding Race and Gender in the Past and in the Pandemic 8:40 to 10 a.m.

–8:40 to 8:50— Jake McGraw, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Jackson, Mississippi

–8:50 to 9 a.m.–Millie Atkins, community leader in Monroe, Louisiana and veteran Delta regional advocate

–9 a.m. to 9:08—Peggy Bradford, former president of Shawnee Community College in southern Illinois, attorney and veteran Delta regional advocate

–9:08 to 9:16 a.m.—Lee Powell, Caucus Director—the complex legacy of Senator Fulbright as a case study on our past in war, peace, poverty and race

–9:16 to 9:24—Anna Beth Gorman, Woman’s Foundation of Arkansas, on issues of economic and health equality and justice during the pandemic and beyond

–9:32 to 9:40 a.m.—Sheila Smith, TS Police Support League, Eutaw, Alabama in the Alabama Black Belt

–9:40 to 9:50 a.m. Mayor Kevin Smith of Helena, Arkansas If there is time, Q & A.

10 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.–Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, the chief economic development official for Arkansas

10:15 a.m.—Congressman Bruce Westerman, who represents a large part of the southern and southeastern Arkansas Delta

FORUM ON THE 2nd CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT ELECTION: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

10:30 a.m.–State Senator Joyce Elliott of Little Rock, Democratic nominee

11 a.m.—U.S. Representative French Hill of Little Rock, Republican nominee

Moderators: Roby Brock, Talk Business and Politics, and Michael Hibblen, KUAR Arkansas Public Radio news department

Continuation of WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN THE ERA OF OUR TWO DISEASES: Racism and Covid-19, 11:30 a.m. to noon

Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp., former Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority

Mayor Shirley Washington of Pine Bluff

—NOON TO 1:50 P.M.–20th Anniversary of the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta Regional Initiative and White House Conference on the Delta: Real Accomplishments, but Still Remaining Serious Challenges for 2020 and Beyond

12 to 12:10–Donna Gambrell, CEO, Appalachian Community Capital, Chair of the board of Southern Bancorp Community Partners, the longest-serving and first African American woman to serve as Director of the US Dept. of Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund)

12:10 to 12:20–Kevin Thurm, CEO Clinton Foundation on the Foundation’s domestic USA programs

12:20 to 12:30–Caucus Director Lee Powell, Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration and one of four managers for the Clinton administration Delta Regional Initiative along with Harold Gist,

12:30 ro 12:36–Wilson Golden, and the late Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation Al Eisenberg: Summary of Some Key Accomplishments over the two decades of the Delta Regional Initiative, and Remaining Challenges for the Future

12:36 to 12:44–Janie Ginocchio, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Southern Bancorp Community Partners

12:44 to 12:55–Cassandra Williams, Senior Vice President, Hope Credit Union and Hope Enterprise Corporation

12:55 to 1:05 p.m.–Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America, national anti-hunger and poverty organization based in New York, Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration

1:05 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.–Rodney Slater, US Secretary of Transportation in the Clinton administration, chair of the Clinton administration’s Delta Regional Initiative, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs based in Washington, DC

Closing comments looking forward to return to Washington, DC, May, 2021

Appreciation for Sponsors

TS Police Support League, Greene County, Alabama

Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp.

Municipal League of Illinois

Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission

Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas

Partners Bank headquartered in historic downtown Helena, Arkansas

Some Key Accomplishments & Remaining Challenges for the Delta Initiative, 2000 to 2020 and Beyond

Delta Caucus, Oct. 13-14, 2020 Regional Conference by Zoom

What policies are followed makes a huge difference and at times the regional community and economic development has been substantially better than others. Since the White House Conference on the Delta in May, 2000, the listening sessions jointly held by grassroots forces and the Clinton administration in the late 1990s and 2000, we have seen what has worked as well as other areas where we have serious remaining challenges as we look forward to 2020 and beyond.

Economic indicators saw substantial improvement from 1993 to 2001– unemployment was 7.5% in the Delta as a whole in 1993, but improved to 4.2% by 2000. Poverty also decreased from 18.4% in the mid-1990s to 16.6% in 2001—this was significant for data that over the years has tended to either stagnate or become worse. This was energized by a synergy of broad-based economic growth policies including small business development and inclusion of lower to middle-income levels rather than a trickle-down approach from Clinton administration bipartisan policies working with Congress, as well as private sector innovations.

The 1993-2001 improvement demonstrates how erroneous is the notion that the Delta has always been impoverished through all times and administrations and there have never been any improvements or changes. There was positive change in this era and in others, along with the too frequent downturns of which we are all aware.

Those gains were already eradicated by 2004, followed by the recession and a gradual recovery in the Obama administration and early Trump years. The poverty level was already higher by 2004 than it had been in the mid-1990s. Whatever anyone thinks about trickle-down economics in general, it has not fared well in a region with much fewer wealthy people like the Delta. These gains—it must be emphasized—had been lost in our region before the Bush recession. The Obama administration’s recovery can be fairly characterized as too slowl, but recovery there was and it lasted through the Obama and first few years of Trump. We now have the unique burden of the pandemic, of course.

Need for getting the virus under control and economic recovery–put first things first: We must first be cautious about opening up the society and economy to get the virus under control, while maintaining sufficiently strong economic aid, relief, unemployment and stimulus packages to keep the economy going. We can cut spending when virus cases go down and when we truly see a solid economic recovery, but we have not seen that yet.

Education and workforce development—This is the starting point toward a brighter future. We need strong support and funding levels for K-12 as well as higher education. The number one answer we get when we ask economic development experts and investors what the key issues is in investing in the Delta is a wel-trained and educated workforce. During the pandemic we may require distance learning depending on the local situation with Covid-19, but education and workforce development has to continue. It will be with us for a larger or lesser extent for a long time to come.

JOBS/ECONOMIC EQUALITY–New Markets Tax Credits, rural Empowerment Zones, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Community Reinvestment Act and other initiatives to attract investments to create jobs that were a major feature of Clinton administration policy and continued through generally similar initiatives in all the administrations since then. We call on Congress to provide strong funding for Small Business Administration, Labor and other larger-scale federal job-related initiatives. Accomplishments of institutions like Southern Bancorp, HOPE Credit Union and Enterprise Corp. and similar institutions in the nonprofit and private sector are highly constructive as well.

Women and minority issues–women are hit worst by job losses in the pandemic recession, and minorities are hit worst in the number of virus cases. Moreover, low-income people tend to not have as strong access to affordable quality health care. We must have equal pay for women doing the same work as men.

Restoring and protecting the Voting Rights Act and other gains of the civil rights movement, major increases in funding and stature of the Minority Business Development Agency, equal access and opportunity in federal procurement and employment across the federal government, are among the top priorities. The CDFI, New Markets Tax Credit and other initiatives cited in the jobs/economic equality section will provide major benefit for African Americans and Latinos who have lower income and job opportunity.

Police reform, combating racial violence and bigotry—We need to acknowledge that most police officers are non-violent enforcers of the law. This truth was tragically driven home recently when an exemplary officer, Kevin Collins—who happened to be African American—was killed while engaging in criminal investigation in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Nonetheless, we do have a recurring dilemma of police violence against blacks. We support reforms such as banning chokeholds and similarly dangerous actions, requiring officers to restrain other officers when they see them being abusive, emphasis on scaling down and defusing rather than escalating tense situations, firing, criminal prosecution where appropriate and other stern punishments for officers who engage in violence or racial slurs, creating a national registry for police officers with abusive records, and last but not least, we must assure higher pay for law enforcement officers. They need to be well paid if we are going to attract high quality officers.

Medicaid expansion–one of the biggest pluses for our region was Obamacare. In Arkansas this has led to more than 200,000 people gaining health insurance for the first time. In Louisiana, more than 400,000 people were involved in Medicaid expansion. Medicaid and Medicare programs should be fully funded and supported during the pandemic.

SNAP, Pandemic EBT and other major nutrition programs deserve an increase during the pandemic: This is a bedrock issue that has an impact on everything else, because people can’t function if they are ill-fed. We have seen a spike in food insecurity during the Covid-19 era, and this in a region that already ranked at the bottom in hunger and nutrition data. SNAP is primarily beneficial as the landmark against hunger, but also has an economic stimulus impact as each dollar from SNAP generates about $1.70 in economic activity.

We call for a major Infrastructure expansion. We could certainly point to certain improvements, but what we are calling for is a major federal and state investment to greatly expand and improve our transportation, housing, broadband and other infrastructure to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure. There has been a lot of talk but the major infrastructure expansion program has not happened. We think it needs to.happen now during the pandemic’s recession.

Creation and retention of the Delta Regional Authority– The current budget of approximately $28 million is much smaller than is needed, but the DRA has still done a fine job with many job training, creation and retention, infrastructure, educational efforts on health and nutrition and other initiatives. The DRA’s Delta Leadership Institute has brought together hundreds of leaders and enhanced their knowledge of the region while helping grow their leadership skills.

We fought to create the DRA and President Clinton signed the bill establishing it in December, 2000. Then we opposed the Bush administration’s slashing the DRA budget down to $5 million in the early 2000s or even abolishing it, and worked to get the budget back up to the level of $28 million. But when it was originally authorized at $30 million as President Clinton signed it into law in late 2000, we saw that as a low starting point and envisaged steadily increasing it over the years—instead we have had to fight to retain the original level. The powers that be must do much better and recognize that this is a good but seriously under-funded agency.

Need for expansion of budgets of all regional commissions–The DRA and all the regional commissions—the ARC, Northern Border, Southwest Border, Southeast Crescent, Denali and others—are all either grossly underfunded or have been authorized but not funded at all. The DRA and the other regional commissions must have major budget expansions based on objective criteria of poverty levels, population, size and need. The baseline should be the much higher levels of the ARC back in its earlier history at about $500 million. The DRA requirement would be not quite that large—somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million—and objective criteria would determine all the commissions’ budgets. We cannot achieve this by only advocating for each commission by itself because the others will inevitably say, “What about my region?” All commissions have to join together for an across-the board expansion.

Delta heritage tourism is a bright spot. The pandemic has undeniably harmed it over the short run, but it will come back when the virus is under control. The Greater Delta has abundant resources including natural resources tourism, Civil War, Reconstruction, African American history, civil rights movement, blues, jazz and other great musical traditions. Delta heritage tourism creates jobs, brings in tourist dollars and educates people about the Greater Delta/Black Belt’s legacy. We must continue to highlight it as a major plus for the region.

Open up agricultural trade: In addition to our longstanding call for a safety net for family farmers, the Greater Delta is one of the world’s great agricultural regions, but we can’t prosper without exports. Tariffs invite retaliation against our farm exports. We should also be selling to Cuba like our competitors are, while we still cling to the counterproductive embargo. We need policies for open markets for the abundant agricultural products of the Delta region.

Agenda Oct. 13-14, 2020 Delta Conference: 20th Anniversary of the Delta Initiative, 2nd District Forum, & Leaders from Across the Region

Posted on October 07, 2020 at 11:32 AM

Greater Delta Summit on the 20th Anniversary of the White House Conference on the Delta and the Grassroots Movement from the 1990s to the Present

We are not “celebrating” the 20th anniversary of the White House Conference on the Delta in 2000, the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta regional movement, and the origins of the Delta Grassroots Caucus; rather, we are looking back at what has worked and where we still have serious challenges to develop policy ACTIONS for 2020 and beyond.

ZOOM LINK

Link to Oct. 14 Greater Delta Region Conference by Zoom webinar:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HQG5xmpaSNGOqVai8KMjqg

This is entirely by Zoom and there are no in-person meetings to err on the side of great caution during the pandemic.

Opening session—October 13, 2020, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m

Introduction—5 p.m. to 5:07, Lee Powell, Delta Caucus Director

ALL TIMES ARE ESTIMATES. We do have the goal of concluding much earlier than we used to—shortly before 7 p.m.—in light of the short attention spans nowadays.

For President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Members of Congress—they always confirm very late in the process for reasons beyond our control and we have to and make scheduling adjustments for them as needed.

5 p.m. to 5:40 p.m.–Big picture speakers on maintaining job growth during the pandemic

5:10 to 5:20–Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabama—economic growth in our turbulent times;

5:23 to 5:32–an executive of Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas as suggested by Randy Henderson of the Nucor plant in Blytheville;

5:32 to 5:38—Brad Cole, Executive Director, Illinois Municipal League

Hunger, Nutrition, Health and Poverty in the Pandemic

5:38 to 5:46 –Lisa Church, Chief Advancement Officer, Southeast Missouri Food Bank, Sikeston, Missouri

5:46 to 5:54—Leesa Freasier, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) Delta project on nutrition and obesity

5:54 to 6:02—Tomiko Townley, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

6:02 to 6:12—Troy Wells, CEO, Baptist Health, the largest health care organization in Arkansas

6:12 to 6:20—Jimmy Cone and Johnny Pettus, project for in-door greenhouse produce farming projects for year-round production in volume, create jobs, and increase access to fresh, nutrition produce

Maintaining Education and workforce development during the pandemic—6:20 p.m. to 7 p.m.

–Alan Gumbel, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, Memphis, Tennessee;

–Glendscene Williams, Director of Delta State University’s small business development center, Cleveland, Mississippi

–Professor Charity Smith, Philander Smith College in Little Rock; and young African American woman student for this year’s Carol Willis Scholar to honor the late, great Carol Willis, a senior adviser to President William Jefferson Clinton and a champion for racial, social and economic justice

Oct. 14 Session, 8:40 a.m. to 1:55 p.m.

Dialogue on Our Legacy regarding Race and Gender in the Past and in the Pandemic 8:40 to 10 a.m.

8:40 to 8:50— Jake McGraw, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Jackson, Mississippi

8:50 to 9 a.m.–Millie Atkins, community leader in Monroe, Louisiana and veteran Delta regional advocate

9 a.m. to 9:08—Peggy Bradford, former president of Shawnee Community College in southern Illinois, attorney and veteran Delta regional advocate

9:08 to 9:16 a.m.—Lee Powell, Caucus Director—the complex legacy of Senator Fulbright as a case study on our past in war, peace, poverty and race

9:16 to 9:24—Anna Beth Gorman, Woman’s Foundation of Arkansas, on issues of economic and health equality and justice during the pandemic and beyond

9:24 a.m. to 9:32—Rupa Dash, CEO, World Woman Foundation

9:32 to 9:40 a.m.—Sheila Smith, TS Police Support League, Eutaw, Alabama in the Alabama Black Belt

9:40 to 9:50 a.m. Mayor Kevin Smith of Helena, Arkansas

If there is time, a few questions.

10 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.–Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, the chief economic development official for Arkansas

10:15 a.m.—Congressman Bruce Westerman, who represents a large part of the southern and southeastern Arkansas Delta

FORUM ON THE 2nd CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT ELECTION: 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

10:30 a.m.–State Senator Joyce Elliott of Little Rock, Democratic nominee

11 a.m.—U.S. Representative French Hill of Little Rock, Republican nominee

Moderators: Roby Brock, Talk Business and Politics

Michael Hibblen, KUAR Arkansas Public Radio news department

Continuation of WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN THE ERA OF OUR TWO DISEASES: Racism and Covid-19, 11:30 a.m. to noon

Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp., former Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority

Mayor Shirley Washington of Pine Bluff

EXTENDED LUNCHEON—NOON TO 1:50 P.M.

20th Anniversary of White House Conference on the Delta in 2000 and Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta Regional Initiative:

Some Real Accomplishments, but Still Remaining Serious Challenges for 2020 and Beyond

Janie Ginocchio, Southern Bancorp Community Partners

(INVITED) Bill Bynum, CEO, Hope Credit Union and Hope Enterprise Corporation, “big picture” presentation on the movement for community and economic progress in the Greater Delta Region from the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta Regional Initiative to 2020 and the future

Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America, national anti-hunger and poverty organization based in New York, Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration

Caucus Director Lee Powell, one of four managers for the Clinton administration Delta initiative along with Harold Gist and the late Al Eisenberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation in the Clinton administration, and Wilson Golden, board member of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Presidential appointee in the Clinton administration

Rodney Slater, US Secretary of Transportation in the Clinton administration, chair of the Clinton administration’s Delta Regional Initiative, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs based in Washington, DC

Chelsea Clinton, invited

President Clinton, invited

Appreciation for Sponsors

Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas

TS Police Support League, Greene County, Alabama

Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp.

Municipal League of Illinois

Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission

Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas

Partners Bank in Helena, Arkansas

Rep. Hill & Sen. Elliott in Congressional Forum, Delta Leaders set for Oct. 13-14 Delta Summit by Zoom

Posted on September 10, 2020 at 01:08 PM

Congressional candidates US Rep. French Hill, AR Sen. Joyce Elliott, and Leaders from across the Delta will take part in the Delta conference by Zoom webinar on Oct. 13-14. This will be entirely by Zoom and there will not be any in-person meetings to avoid spreading Covid-19.

Sen. Elliott and Rep. Hill are confirmed and will be questioned by journalists Roby Brock of Talk Business and Politics and Michael Hibblen, news director of KUAR radio, the NPR affiliate in Little Rock in an objective, fair setting.

Sen. Elliott speaks at 10:30 a.m. and Rep. Hill speaks at 11 a.m. on Oct. 14.

The 2nd District race is seriously contested and is receiving national attention. We make no endorsement and want to hear from both sides fairly–thus the decision to have the forum conducted by two objective journalists.

Please sign up on the Zoom webinar link below and send in registration fees if you have not already done so–registration fees information is below in this email.

We have also confirmed Congressman Bruce Westerman; Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, the top economic development official in Arkansas; Troy Wells, CEO of Baptist Health, the largest health care organization in Arkansas, Joel Berg, CEI of Hunger Free America–the national hunger and poverty organization based in New York; women and minority advocates, nonprofits, business leaders, universities and colleges and grassroots advocates from across the region.

We are inviting President Clinton and/or Chelsea Clinton, John Boozman, Rep. Rick Crawford and Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama.

Economic and health challenges during the pandemic are the key issues, including job creation and retention, health care, SNAP and other nutrition programs and rising food insecurity in Covid-19 era, a major infrastructure program to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure, and maintaining education and workforce development. As a diverse organization, we need to be acutely sensitive to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and recession on women and minorities.

Leaders from across the region who are participants are listed below the information on the Zoom link that will be needed to gain access to the Zoom webinar:

You are invited to the Oct. 13-14 Delta Summit by Zoom webinar.

Beginning time to start connecting to the Zoom link is Oct 13, 2020 04:30 PM Central Time, with the program being from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The program continues the next day, Oct. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Topic: Delta Summit Oct. 13-14, 2020

Register in advance for this webinar:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HQG5xmpaSNGOqVai8KMjqg

Appreciation for Sponsors

Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas

Municipal League of Illinois

TS Police Support League, Greene County, Alabama Black Belt

Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission

Partners Bank, headquartered in historic downtown Helena, Arkansas

Delta leaders participating or invited include:

–Mayor Kevin Smith of Helena, Arkansas;

–Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America, national anti-hunger and poverty organization;

–Donna Gambrell, CEO, Appalachian Community Capital, major nonprofit in our sister region in Appalachia; Philander Smith College professor (TBD);

–University of Arkansas representative (TBD); Tomiko Townley, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance;

–Janie Ginnocchio, Southern Bancorp Community Partners; Leesa Freasier, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Delta nutrition project;

–Anna Beth Gorman, Executive Director, Women’s Foundation of Arkansas;

–Rupa Dash, CEO, World Woman Federation;

–Harvey Joe Sanner, Delta Caucus senior adviser and President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas;

–(INVITED) Mayor Shirley Washington of Pine Bluff, Arkansas;

–Brad Cole, Executive Director, Municipal League of Illinois;

–Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston, Missouri Chamber and Economic Development Corp., former Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority;

–Joey Keys, Executive Director, Southeast Missouri Food Bank organization;

–(INVITED) Bill Bynum, CEO, Hope Credit Union and Enterprise Corp.

–Wilson Golden, senior Delta Caucus adviser, Clinton administration Presidential appointee,

–Johnny Pettus, Society of St. Andrew and small farmers advocate in Arkansas;

–Peggy Bradford, former president of Shawnee Community College in Illinois, attorney, Delta regional advocate from southern Illinois;

–Alan Gumbel, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, Memphis, Tennessee;

–Sheila Smith, TS Police Support League, Greene County in the Alabama Black Belt;

–Mayor Sheldon Day, Thomasville, Alabama.

REGISTRATION FEES

The easiest way to pay the $40 registration fees is to go on the website at www.mdgc.us and go to the PayPal link at the top of the page that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

Thanks–Lee Powell, Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347

Economic Reports Indicate Delta Still Suffering Severely; Need for stronger economic stimulus and safety net packages

Posted on August 25, 2020 at 11:09 AM

“Data Show Delta Region Still Suffering Severely from Pandemic”

Economic reports from nonprofits, universities, and grassroots leaders show that the Delta region is still seriously suffering economically. The Delta Caucus partners urge much stronger federal, state and local economic stimulus packages and safety net funding to jump-start the regional economy.

“The Delta continues to suffer seriously from the pandemic and a strong recovery is still not here. A collection of data from across the region indicate the need for a strong economic stimulus from federal, state and private sector sources. An overly rosy depiction of the Delta’s economy is counterproductive because we need to admit we still have a severe problem in order to solve it,” said Lee Powell, Caucus director.

Common themes from the economic reports are: –The Delta economy was vulnerable in many ways, including having many small businesses that were struggling before the pandemic, closed and have not come back yet;

–many low-income people who did not have large savings to see them through a downturn;

–the region’s diverse population with many African Americans and some other minorities has been hit harder by both higher virus infection rates and more economic losses. Minority women are especially hard hit because women have suffered the greatest job losses and as minorities they have higher virus rates;

–the region’s economy had major manufacturing, agriculture and other sectors that have been hit disproportionately by the recession. Some larger companies remain solid, but the overall picture is bleak.

Unemployment statistics improved for the state as a whole, but many Delta counties still lag behind:

Arkansas statewide figures improved from 8.1% in May to 7.1% in June. But the five worst unemployment rates were all from Delta counties, and 16 of the bottom 20 out of Arkansas’ 75 counties were from eastern and southeastern Arkansas and they were substantially worse than the statewide average.

Chicot County: 13.6%

Mississippi: 12.6%

Phillips: 11.8%

Crittenden: 11.6%

Other Delta counties included Jefferson County at 10%, St. Francis at 9.6%, Jackson and Lee counties at 9.5%, Monroe at 9.3%, Desha at 9.2%

The Jonesboro area was a bright spot as usual, having an unemployment rate in June at 7.7% after 8.5% in May. The Jonesboro area is historically a relatively prosperous exception to the rule in eastern Arkansas.

The regional economy has suffered from chronic economic dislocations for decades, with the mechanization of agriculture eliminating many farm jobs, outdated policies of attracting a big plant with tax breaks and promises of cheap unskilled labor only to see those plants to move to even lower cost countries some years later; need for much greater diversification and stronger small business growth.

Key findings from the compilation include:

• Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana had the four highest rates of food insecurity based on a Feeding America survey. The Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research found the highest food insecurity levels were in Mississippi (31.6%) and Louisiana (30.1%), with Arkansas the fifth highest at 25.9%.

• A survey of the University of Arkansas Department of Sociology and Criminology found that Arkansas and other Southern and mid-Southern states had elevated levels of food insecurity due to Covid-19. In the category of “reduced quality, desirability or variety of diet,” the four worst rates were all from “Greater Delta Region” states: Alabama (47.7%), Arkansas (47.4%), Tennessee (45.1%) and Kentucky (44%).

• A University of Louisiana at Lafayette report found that job losses in Louisiana were virtually twice as high in the pandemic as compared with after Hurricane Katrina–by 11% in the first half of this year, as compared with a 6% drop after Katrina in 2005. Louisiana’s gross domestic product contraction of 6% was one of the five sharpest drops among all states.

• An Illinois Municipal League survey found that 87% of municipalities expected a substantial revenue shortfall due to the pandemic. Many communities advised that they will need greater assistance from federal and state governments. The Southern Illinois Delta area chronically fares worse than the statewide economic figures for Illinois.

• Arkansas, Mississippi and the other Delta states are participating in the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that provides assistance to families with children eligible for free or reduced price meals dealing with school closures. This enables these states to operate Pandemic EBT, a supplemental food purchasing benefit to current SNAP participants and as a new EBT benefit to other eligible households to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school.

Harvey Joe Sanner, president of American Ag Movement of Arkansas in Des Arc, AR, said “Our job situation is worsening. as one our large employers in Lonoke, AR, Remmington Arms is laying off workers… I think most people feel that our situation both health wise and economically will get worse before it gets better. In summation, I’M WORRIED LIKE H*LL.”

Mayor Kevin Smith of Helena, AR said Helena had recently lost an important new employer after ports in China closed to imports during the first months of the pandemic, but they hope to eventually lure the company back. They have seen a depression in hotels, restaurants, and tourist industry. An important day care facility closed. A “rare bright spot is that the internet sales tax approved by the legislature has made a tremendous difference to us.”

Millie Atkins, Delta Caucus senior adviser and veteran Delta regional advocate based in Monroe, Louisiana said “This pandemic has shed a great light on the many economic, social and educational inequities in a number of areas where the Delta was vulnerable” such as the large number of job losses, the many low-income jobs that made it difficult for people to accumulate savings that could see them through a downturn, the small business closures that have not come back yet.”

Delta Caucus partners across the region call for a strong economic stimulus and safety net package to jump-start the region’s economy: : • continuing larger unemployment benefit and strong federal and state economic stimulus and relief aid to deal with the unprecedented job losses,

• 15% increase in SNAP and other nutrition benefit programs during the pandemic,

• A major infrastructure expansion program to create jobs, repair our deteriorating infrastructure, and stimulate the economy;

• Job creation and retention programs through tax incentives for investing in economically distressed areas;

• Maintaining education and workforce development programs during the pandemic, which will require a major broadband access expansion initiative through programs such as USDA’s Rural Re-Connect high-speed broadband program and state programs like Arkansas’ Rural Connect (ARC).

Below in the extended content section is the 22-page collection of reports from local leaders across the region, nonprofits, and universities.

Sources regarding impact of the pandemic on the Delta economy as of August, 2020

  1. Executive Summary/News Release summarizing findings from economic reports of nonprofits, universities and grassroots leaders from across the region

  2. Millie Atkins, community leader and Delta regional advocate in northern Louisiana, and Louisiana United Way

  3. USDA Approves Program for Mississippi to feed kids during pandemic (all 8 Delta states now take part in this program)

  4. University of Arkansas research report on food insecurity during the pandemic

  5. Mayor Kevin Smith, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas

  6. Illinois Municipal League, Brad Cole, Executive Director

  7. Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, Prairie County, Arkansas

  8. Mike Marshall, Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce

  9. Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

  10. University of Louisiana Lafayette and Acadiana newspaper

  11. Northwestern University research on state food insecurity levels in the pandemic (recommended by Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America

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Zoom Registration for Oct. 13-14, 2020 Greater Delta Region Summit

Posted on August 10, 2020 at 12:28 PM

Due to the pandemic, most Delta Caucus partners will be participating at the Oct. 13-14, 2020 Greater Delta Region Summit by Zoom.

We are awaiting word from the two venues in Little Rock as to whether a small number of speakers will be allowed to be there in person, depending of course on the situation with Covid-19. The information for advance registration by Zoom is below in this email.

Key issues: We will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the White House Conference on the Delta, the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta Regional Initiative, and the origins of the Delta Grassroots Caucus.

This is a forward-looking initiative for 2020 and the years ahead to urge greater action by federal, state and local powers that be for job creation and retention, a strong relief aid package to deal with job losses, hunger and nutrition, health care, infrastructure improvements, and greater opportunity for women and minorities who have been hit hardest by the health and economic impacts of the Coronavirus. We need to continue our candid dialogue about racial issues in the Delta.

Invited speakers: We are inviting President Clinton—or if he can’t schedule it, Chelsea Clinton, who is a vital force for the Clinton Foundation, Members of Congress, Gov. Asa Hutchinson or a senior official of his administration, state legislators, executives of foundations, corporations, nonprofits, universities and colleges, mayors and other grassroots leaders. This is bipartisan.

Congressional forum–We do not make endorsements of any candidates. There is a seriously contested race in the central Arkansas Congressional District between Congressman French Hill and state Sen. Joyce Elliott, and we will have a forum for those two candidates moderated by Roby Brock of Arkansas Talk Business and a journalist from Arkansas Public Radio.

We have about 70 RSVPs and we will need to have all of them register by Zoom. Estimated number of participants is about 100.

We are awaiting word from the Clinton Presidential Center officials and the Arkansas Capitol as to whether a small number of people will be permitted to be there in person for the two sessions scheduled earlier.

This depends entirely on the situation with Covid-19, about which we are deeply sensitive because we as a group include a substantial number of people with above average risk factors for contracting the virus.

If a small number of speakers will be allowed to gather wearing masks and practicing social distancing, (speaking by Zoom to the other attendees) these sessions will be:

Arkansas Capitol Rotunda, Oct. 13, 2020 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Clinton Library Great Hall, Oct. 14, 2020, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

PAYING REGISTRATION FEES

Registration fees for those participating by Zoom will be $40 each.

(If there is a small group of people in person, we will ask $75 each in registration fees for them.)

The easiest way to pay the registration fees is to go on the website at mdgc.us and go to the link at the top of the site that says “Donate.” This makes a written record for the transaction.

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

REGISTRATION FOR DELTA SUMMIT BY ZOOM WEBINAR, OCT. 13-14, 2020

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

Beginning time to connect with the Zoom webinar is Oct 13, 2020, 4:30 PM Central Time, with the program from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Longer session is Oct. 14 morning and lunch, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Topic: Delta Summit Oct. 13-14, 2020

Register in advance for this webinar:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HQG5xmpaSNGOqVai8KMjqg

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

NOTE: We know that those attending by Zoom will take breaks during the program. We will send out an agenda with the main issues and times beforehand.

Please also note that President Clinton, Members of Congress, and Gov. Hutchinson have such hectic schedules that they usually confirm their speaking time much later than most and also frequently have to change their speaking times at the last minute, again due to their very busy schedules. So we have to have flexibility and will keep people informed of changes as rapidly as we can.

Thanks very much. Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347