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.

Rice Industry Expansion in the Delta & Legacy of Constructive Policies Engineered by former US Rep. Bill Alexander

Posted on June 19, 2019 at 02:53 PM

The Delta Caucus urges the Trump administration and Congress to preserve the tremendously important trade ties the United States holds with Mexico and Canada, as well as opening up new markets in Cuba and China. In doing so we would like to recall the leadership in trade and economic policies of former Congressman Bill Alexander of Arkansas.

Below is a policy memorandum that was distributed by the Delta Grassroots Caucus at our regional economic development conference at Arkansas State University Mid-South in West Memphis, Arkansas on April 25-26, 2019. The memo summarizes the tremendous expansion of the Delta rice industry generated by bipartisan legislation sponsored by Congressman Alexander beginning in the 1970s. This economic success story continues to be a major economic plus for our region today.

We had a total of 140 participants for all or parts of the conference from the 8-state Greater Delta Region from southern Illinois and Missouri down through western Kentucky and Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi to New Orleans, Louisiana and eastward to the Alabama Black Belt, as well as representatives from as far away as Washington, DC, Georgia, Florida and Texas.

The memo describes the huge expansion of the rice industry in Arkansas and the Delta region generated by innovative legislation sponsored by Congressman Alexander of Arkansas (with bipartisan support in Congress) beginning in the 1970s, leading Arkansas to become by far the leading rice producing state in America and the Delta the largest rice-producing region in our country.

The memo proceeds to advocate for wise farm trade policies supported by Rep. Alexander during his tenure in Congress and now being advocated by many leaders from both parties today in favor of maintaining and expanding our export markets to Mexico and Canada, as well as opening up trade to Cuba and the massive market of China. (Editor’s note–Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus)

An Economic Success Story Led by Congressman Bill Alexander: Arkansas and the Delta Rank as the Top Rice Producing-Region in America

April 25-26, 2019 Delta Regional Conference at ASU Mid-South in West Memphis, Arkansas

Arkansas is by far the leading rice-producing state in America, growing approximately half of the rice in the USA, with Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri ranking in the top six rice producers along with California and Texas. This is a major economic success story for the Greater Delta Region

Arkansas’ rice boom began in the 1970s, when federal legislation in 1970 and again in 1976 sponsored by then US Rep. Bill Alexander of Arkansas’ First District lifted controls on rice production in the earlier allotment program, opening up rice farming to many new producers. While we all know about economic challenges in our region, we have also had successes and the Delta rice boom in recent history is a major accomplishment.

Rep. Alexander worked with a bipartisan group in Congress to pass the legislation expanding opportunities for more rice farmers. From about 500,000 acres in 1970, Arkansas became the country’s leading producer in 1973 and the rice expansion kept gathering momentum for the long term:

–Arkansas rice acreage tripled from 1970 to 1981 from 500,000 to 1.54 million harvested acres.

–Arkansas set a record of 1.785 million acres in 2010, and for the past half century it has led the nation and continues to do so every year with about 1.161 million acres planted in 2017.

–Today, the rice industry contributes more than $6 billion annually to the state’s economy and accounts for about 25,000 jobs, primarily in the east Arkansas Delta region.

–Arkansas has 2,500 rice farms and 96% of them are family-owned. The state’s farmers produce 9 billion pounds of rice, which is the state’s second highest value commodity and its top agricultural export.

In 1979 when the Delta rice boom was in full swing, a USDA report explained that planting was restrained by government programs from 1955 to 1973 to prevent huge surpluses. In the 1970s, Rep. Alexander worked with Members of Congress from both parties in passing legislation suspending marketing quotas “resulting in a sharp rise in national acreage,” according to USDA.

Acreage more than doubled in northeast Arkansas from 1973 to 1978 and a similar major expansion also took place across much of the rest of the Mississippi Delta” including Mississippi, Louisiana and southeast Missouri.

Earlier government policies restricted production to farmers who had allotments and placed controls on who could plant it and how much. Alexander’s legislation opened up rice production to many new growers and the Delta economy has benefited ever since. We need to follow up on those lasting gains by pursuing constructive policies now especially in safeguarding and expanding rice exports.

Opening up trade to Cuba: Cuba is an agricultural market estimated at about $2 billion for all products. They consume large amounts of rice, and Delta farmers are uniquely positioned by quality, high production, and lower transportation costs to defeat any other nation for this market. The embargo has existed 50 years without undermining the Cuban dictatorship and has only harmed our producers. The best way to undermine the authoritarian regime is to show them the benefits of free enterprise and our great products like rice and poultry.

Harvey Joe Sanner, long-time farm activist in east Arkansas, participant in the Tractorcade of the 1970s, and president of the American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas praised Congressman Alexander’s tremendous accomplishments in expanding the Delta rice industry, as well as his foresight in leading the charge in favor of expanded markets to Mexico, Cuba, and the rest of the world.

Looking back on Alexander’s statesmanlike accomplishments in a comment on June 20, 2019, Sanner said: “Bill Alexander had foresight and the political ability to accomplish legislative action that benefitted his part of the world. Both vision and ability are necessary and one without the other is little more than political rhetoric. Representative Alexander wasn’t about rhetoric, he was about action and he had the political courage to speak up for his district even when it meant standing up to the rich and powerful opposition.”

Need to avoid trade wars, expand into the China market, and protect our exports to to Mexico and Canada: Many economists have warned of the potential damaging impact if countries retaliate against the US for trade barriers imposed by the Trump administration—estimated losses would include a reduction in US rice production by more than $151 million due to a combination of lower producer prices and output. We urge the administration and Congress to avoid escalating tariff wars, maintain our trade with Mexico and Canada, and open up markets in China and elsewhere.

Gov. Hutchinson's Great Leadership for Environmental Preservation for the Buffalo River

Posted on June 15, 2019 at 01:07 PM

The Delta Caucus partners are strong advocates for environmental preservation. Therefore, we were immensely pleased by a recent victory for the environment: Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a $6.2 million buyout of a hog farm that was unfortunately placed in the Buffalo River Watershed and risked pollution of this national treasure.

Moreover, the governor also stated that a temporary ban on large-scale hog farms in the Buffalo River watershed should be made permanent.

Many people in the Delta region and across the country were concerned that the farm hog would produce E. coli in this majestic river. There was the risk that hog waste could lead to accumulation of bacteria downstream in the Buffalo.

Gov. Hutchinson’s follows in the great tradition of an earlier generation of environmental leaders who championed the Buffalo when it faced a threat of pollution back in the 1960s and 1970:

Senator J. William Fulbright sponsored legislation beginning in the 1960s to preserve the beautiful Buffalo against the intrusion of dams and business developments that were creating unacceptable risks of pollution. Fulbright enlisted the aid of many other national leaders from both parties, including Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt (R-AR), Senator John McClellan (D-Ar), Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, the famous artist William Hart Benton, and many others.

Fulbright’s efforts culminated in the passage of legislation in 1972 designating the Buffalo as America’s first national river. Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell knew Fulbright for 20 years and is the author of a comprehensive biography (J. William Fulbright and His Time, published in 1995 with a Foreword by President William Jefferson Clinton)m and on behalf of the Delta Caucus wrote a letter to Gov. Hutchinson praising his efforts to continue the earlier generation of leaders’ work in preserving the iconic Buffalo River (letter is below in this message):

The owners of C & H Hog Farms had followed all the proper legal actions in applying for their permit for the farm. A state agency, however, erred in allowing a farm producing large levels of hog waste to be located so close to the Buffalo. Gov. Hutchinson’s action corrects this error while being fair to the farmers.

The geographical area involved is slightly farther west of the Delta, but many people from our region travel there every year, as do tourists from all over the country and over the world. All Americans should be delighted that we will be able to see the beauties of the Buffalo for generations to come.

(Delta Caucus letter to Gov. Hutchinson, June 14, 2019)

Delta Grassroots Caucus

June 14, 2019

Dear Governor Hutchinson:

As supporters of environmental preservation in Arkansas, the Delta Caucus would like to extend our profound appreciation to you and the State of Arkansas for the buyout of C & H Hog Farms as a great victory for supporters of the Buffalo River and environmentalists across the country.

As a biographer and friend of the late, great Senator J. William Fulbright, I know he would be tremendously proud of you for taking action to preserve the national treasure of the Buffalo River. Senator Fulbright championed the cause of the Buffalo in the 1960s and 1970s, when dam construction and development projects led to excessive sewage and environmental concerns for the river. Fulbright endorsed National Park Service status for the river as early as 1961 and introduced legislation in 1967 to make the Buffalo a National River. In 1972 Congress made the Buffalo the first river in the USA to be designated as a national river.

Your action preserves and builds upon the work of earlier advocates for this iconic natural treasure, including J. William Fulbright, Senator John McClellan, Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, the great painter Thomas Hart Benton, and many other champions of the Buffalo River.

You are absolutely correct that the permit to C & H Hog Farms should never have been granted. We also understand that the farmers followed all the legal steps and did nothing wrong. It is just that they are being treated fairly in your wise action.

Countless people from the Delta region and across the country visit the Buffalo River every year. This is a decision that all Arkansans and environmentalists everywhere will appreciate from this day forward.

As a result of your leadership, we are confident that the Buffalo River will not suffer environmental degradation, and Americans will be able to witness the majestic scenery of this national treasure for many generations to come. We know you will continue to keep a watchful eye over the completion of this endeavor in the months and years ahead.

Please know that Senator Fulbright and the earlier generation of champions for the Buffalo River are looking upon you with tremendous pride and appreciation today.

Lee Riley Powell, Executive Director, on behalf of the Delta Grassroots Caucus

Background of the original effort to preserve the Buffalo River

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Army Corps of Engineers began building dams that created many large lakes in Arkansas that supplied electricity and flood control, as well as the growth of large real estate investment projects. Some of the lakes began having problems with boat traffic jams and excessive sewage caused in part by the presence of too many septic tanks. Despite these environmental concerns, promoters in the 1960s and 1970s encouraged the Corps to dam more and more free-flowing streams. The influx of retirees from the North encouraged the promoters in their business ventures.

The Buffalo River was one of the major free-flowing streams in Arkansas, and it provided spectacular scenery as it passed through the heart of the Ozark Mountains. Environmentalists from all over the country supported the efforts of Fulbright and others to preserve the river. Justice William O. Douglas floated down the river in a canoe and afterward exclaimed that “it is worth fighting to the death to preserve.” Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall called it a “national treasure.”

The business promoters nonetheless persisted in their narrow focus on development projects, and the US House of Representatives–unfortunately including many in the Arkansas House delegation–endorsed the proposal for yet another dam.

Fulbright found allies in Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, a Republican representing the northwest Arkansas district, Sen. John McClellan–and won the unlikely support of Gov. Orval Faubus, with whom Fulbright had always held a difficult relationship. With Faubus’ surprising endorsement, Fulbright fought for a bill giving National Parks service to the river, and in 1972 the bill passed and the Buffalo became America’s first National River. (see Lee Riley Powell, J. William Fulbright and His Time, page 451)

The C & H Hog Farm presented a different but nonetheless serious threat to the Buffalo River. The Delta Caucus joins environmentalists across the globe in praising Gov. Asa Hutchinson for this action to remove the threat of pollution presented by a large hog farm in the river’s watershed.

Delta Caucus Mourns Passing of Sen. Thad Cochran, Distinguished Statesman and Leader for the Delta

Posted on May 30, 2019 at 02:07 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus mourns the passing of US Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, a distinguished statesman, fearless advocate for the Greater Mississippi Delta region, and towering figure for four decades in the United States Senate.

“Sen. Cochran generated a beneficial flow of federal funding to Mississippi and our region for infrastructure, agriculture, food stamps (SNAP) and other initiatives, while epitomizing the ‘Southern gentleman’ in the best sense of that phrase in his cordial, respectful attitude to everyone whether he agreed with them or not,” said Lee Powell, Caucus director. “His voice of pragmatism and civility is sorely lacking in today’s political arena.”

Caucus Director Lee Powell joined other Delta Caucus senior partners from both parties who knew Cochran in this tribute, including Wilson Golden, fellow University of Mississippi law school alumnus who knew Cochran for four decades; Ben Burkett, African American farmer and Mississippi coordinator for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives; Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabaman, Joel Berg, CEO of the national anti-hunger and poverty organization Hunger Free America, and Brad Cole, former senior aide to US Sen. Mark Kirk (Republican, Illinois), currently executive director of the Municipal League of Illinois.

“Thad Cochran worked with the Delta Caucus partners for a quarter of a century on Delta issues, spoke to our group on many occasions, and was unfailingly thoughtful and always heard us out even when we disagreed with him. In particular we should express our deep appreciation for his work in bringing large sums of federal dollars to Mississippi in the region, his support for the food stamp nutrition program in a region and era when many reactionary politicians bashed this vital program, and his bipartisan support for such economic development entities as the Delta Regional Authority,” Powell said.

“While the Delta Caucus does not make formal endorsements, it is no secret that many of our individual partners vigorously campaigned in Mississippi for Sen. Cochran in 2014, when he faced an extreme right-wing, TEA party attack from state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who assaulted the many constructive programs that Cochran had brought to the state over the decades,” Powell said.

“Sen. Cochran made a bipartisan appeal to both Republicans and Democrats in that historic election, including African American voters, and we were delighted that he prevailed in that election, albeit by the narrow margin of 51% to 49%,” Powell said.

Ben Burkett, African American farmer from Mississippi and Federation of Southern Cooperatives official, said “He was one of the few political leaders who was a man of his word. If he told you he would do something, he would follow through; and if he said he would not do it, he meant what he said just as well. Whether it was the Pigford lawsuit filed by African American farmers on USDA racial discrimination or federal aid to African American farmers and small farmers in general, he always followed through and kept his promise.”

Joel Berg, CEO of the national anti-hunger and poverty organization Hunger Free America based in New York, said “We will always honor Senator Cochran’s legacy of standing up for nutrition assistance programs that aided the most vulnerable in Mississippi and nationwide. “

Wilson Golden, Clinton administration Presidential appointee who formerly practiced law in Greenville, Mississippi and currently is board member of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Jackson, MS said “With the passing of Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, who died May 30 at age 81, the nation lost a quiet voice for reason and moderation sorely missing in today’s divisive political climate.”

Cochran’s public service began with his 1972 election to the US House of Representatives from a southwest Mississippi congressional district that extended from the state capital of Jackson to the Mississippi River counties which included Natchez extending south to the Mississippi-Louisiana border. In 1978 Cochran was elected to fill the US Senate seat previously held by Jim Eastland.

Wilson Golden said that at Cochran’s retirement in February 2018, he had achieved national recognition as an “across the aisle” leader dedicated to addressing the nation’s most urgent problems with minimal partisan bickering. He and was a leading voice for agricultural interests and Mississippi’s overall economic development throughout his career in the Congress.

Brad Cole, Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal League and former senior aide to US Sen. Mark Kirk (Republican, Illinois), said: “”Senator Cochran was a true champion for the Delta–not just Mississippi but the entire region. His leadership helped establish the Delta Regional Authority and his support over the following years was critical to the DRA’s progress. All of us lost a good friend with Thad Cocharn’s passing.”

Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville Alabama, a Republican leader in the Alabama Black Belt, said “He worked closely with Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and leaders across the Delta and Alabama Black Belt to create and preserve the DRA. He was a true gentleman who worked hard and effectively for so many years to help rural America, and his legacy will live on.”

When President Clinton was working on the legislation creating the Delta Regional Authority in 2000, Lee Powell, Wilson Golden and other current Delta Caucus partners were then Presidential appointees in the Clinton administration and placed the highest priority on working with Cochran and his staff, knowing that the bill would not pass without bipartisan support and especially from the statesmanlike Cochran, dean of the Senate.

“Sen. Cochran gave his blessing to the creation of the DRA, and without his support it is unlikey that this constructive economic development agency for the 8-state Greater Delta Region would have ever been created,” Powell said. President Clinton and Democratic members like Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Rep. Marion Berry of Arkansas were supporting it, but without senior Republican support—especially from Thad Cochran—the bill would never have passed.

Cochran not only played a key role in the DRA’s creation but opposed efforts in the early Bush administration to drastically slash its funding, which had originally was envisaged at $30 million but was cut by President Bush to $5 million in the early 2000s. With the support of Members of Congress, grassroots leaders, supporters of the DRA worked over the years to restore the funding to $25 million and assure its long-term, solid basis.

Sen. Cochran rose to the heights of power in the Senate, serving as Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee from 2005 to 2007 and again from 2015 until he resigned in 2018 for health reasons. He chaired the Agriculture Committee from 2003 to 2005.

Cochran was a key champion of aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina when he was Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and engineered approximately $87 billion in aid for the disaster-struck region. “We in America are generous in helping victims of disasters, and Cochran served our country well in following in that noble tradition,” Powell said.

Powell recalled that on one of the occasions when the Delta Caucus had brought a group of regional grassroots advocates to Capitol Hill for a few days of advocacy, he advised us “To make our case to the law-makers quietly but firmly, and recognize that you won’t get everything you ask for, but if you present the needs for the region and back it up with experiences from your daily lives, you will likely get at least a reasonable amount of help for the Delta.” That was wise, practical counsel.

We also recall the memorable occasion in 2008 when Sen. Cochran shared the floor with the Rev. J. Y. Trice, late African American pastor, social activist and former Mayor of Rosedale, Mississippi. When they were young men in the age of Jim Crow, Rev. Trice would not have been allowed in the same meeting hall together, but on that day they greeted each other as old colleagues and together were the key speakers for a diverse coalition from all across Mississippi and the Greater Delta Region.

Sen. Cochran’s legacy will live on as long as civility, thoughtfulness and statesmanship endure in our nation.

Fall Delta Regional Conference Set for Nov. 7-8, 2019 in Little Rock; Registration fees & annual dues info

Posted on May 16, 2019 at 01:16 PM

The fall Delta Regional Conference regarding community and economic development for the 8-state region from southern Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans is set for Little Rock, Arkansas for Thursday evening, Nov. 7, 2019, from about 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 morning and lunch, about 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

It is very helpful to get early registration fees and/or annual membership dues for calendar year 2019, and that information is below.

Turnout has been trending larger for recent events, with the Greater Delta Regional conference at ASU Mid-South in West Memphis on April 25-26 having a very full meeting room. If space runs out this will need to be on a first-come, first-served basis.

FYI–Update regarding Delta Caucus Executive Director Lee Powell—He is recovering from a totally unexpected gangrenous gall bladder infection in which bacteria and fungus from the infection entered the bloodstream. This erupted a few days after the April 25-26 Delta conference in West Memphis.

The surgery was successful. Septic situations must be treated very carefully and Lee Powell is continuing very strong medication and I-V anti-biotics. He is resting, following all doctors’ orders and totally focused on recovery.

Powell earlier had the bad luck of several bad respiratory infections that were going around this winter and spring. A complete recovery from the abdominal infection may take time, but everything possible is being done toward that goal. Thanks for the concern many people expressed.

OPENING SESSION: Thursday evening, Nov. 7, 2018, from about 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Rotunda of the Arkansas State Capitol.

FRIDAY MORNING AND LUNCH SESSION, Nov. 8, 2019 from about 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Robinson Center ballroom overlooking the Arkansas River.

REGISTRATION:

You register by paying the early registration fees.

Registration fee levels–for those who have not paid their annual membership dues for calendar year 2019: $100

Registration fee level for those who have paid dues (all those who were at the ASU Mid-South conference in West Memphis have paid their annual dues for 2019): $75

GROUP DISCOUNTS–There are group discount rates for those who can organize a group of people to attend, depending on the number they bring.

Annual membership dues for 2019:

We ask for annual membership dues in the minimum amount of $25 for each calendar year for those who wish to receive information about Delta Caucus messages and be eligible to take part in our events. If you have already paid your annual dues, thanks very much.

For medium-sized nonprofits, businesses, universities and colleges, chambers of commerce, and other organizations, the suggested annual membership dues level is $50.

For larger universities, foundations, and corporations, the suggested dues level is $100.

The only requirement is for a minimum of $25 for all Delta Caucus partners.

The easiest and fastest way to pay the registration fees and/or 2019 annual membership dues is to go to the website at mdgc.us and go to the PayPal link at the top of the site 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

Thank you very much. Delta Grassroots Caucus

A Full House on Both Days, Greater Delta Region conference a big success on April 25-26 at ASU Mid-South, West Memphis

Posted on April 01, 2019 at 11:33 AM

The Greater Delta Region conference at ASU Mid-South West Memphis was a big success, with packed houses both days. We would again like to thank Chancellor Debra West of ASU Mid-South for being a great host and giving a thoughtful, dynamic presentation at the April 26 luncheon.

Please note: a few days after the conference Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell was suddenly hospitalized with a gangrenous galled bladder, which has been surgically removed. Of course, any time gangrene is involved it is a very serious situation. They hope the surgery removed all the gangrene but will have to continue monitoring that. Powell now has bacteria in his blood system that doctors are trying to prevent from spreading across his entire system.

This is a very serious condition, Lee Powell of course cannot speak to anyone, and we know no way of knowing how long he will be in the hospital or how long it will take to resolve the bacteria in the blood issue.

Below is the agenda for the April 25-26 Greater Delta Region Conference at Arkansas State University Mid-South Marion Berry Building in West Memphis, Arkansas.

OPENING SESSION IS Thursday evening, April 25, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at ASU Mid-South Marion Berry Building

FRIDAY APRIL 26: from 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Friday morning and lunch, ASU Mid-South Marion Berry Building

Agenda–Delta Grassroots Caucus

“Jobs, Education/Workforce Development & Infrastructure”

Arkansas State University Mid-South in West Memphis, April 25-26, 2019

This is a ROUGH DRAFT—THERE WILL BE A FEW CHANGES

INFORMATION TABLES

Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, Mississippi

Sultana Steamboat Disaster Museum, Marion, Arkansas

Arkansas State University Heritage Sites

Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi

Snowden House Historic Mansion and B & B on Scenic Horseshoe Lake, Hughes, Arkansas

OPENING SESSION, Thursday April 25, 2019, 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

ASU Mid-South Marion Berry Building

Introduction—Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus—4:30 p.m.

4:40 to 5 p.m.

Ben Burkett, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Mississippi

5 p.m. to 5:10 p.m.—Mayor James Strickland of Memphis

5:10 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.–Downtown Revitalizationm Jobs, and Delta Heritage Tourism

  1. Wilson Golden, board member of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Jackson, Mississippi (affiliated with the new civil rights museum in Jackson)

  2. Mayor Kevin Smith of Helena, Arkansas

  3. Shelley Ritter, Executive Director, Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, Mississippi

  4. Rex Nelson, Senior Editor and columnist, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, former Alternate Federal Co-Chairman, Delta Regional Authority

Rodney Slater, Former US Secretary of Transportation, now senior partner of Squire, Patton Boggs firm in Washington, DC

  1. Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and economic development organization, former Alternate Federal Co-Chairman, Delta Regional Authority

  2. Louis Intres, Director, Sultana steamboat disaster museum, Marion, Arkansas

  3. Mayor Shirley Washington of Pine Bluff

6:30 p.m. to 6:50 p.m.—State Legislatora on Arkansas Works Health Insurance Program

Rep. Reginald Murdock (Marianna) Rep. Chris Richey (Helena)

Friday, April 26, 2019 ASU Mid-South Marion Berry Building

8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m.—Infrastructure, Job Creation and Economic Development

–Johnnie Bolin, Chairman, Southeast Arkansas Cornerstone Coalition

–Brad Cole, Executive Director of the Municipal League for the state of Illinois

–Marcie Lawson, Executive Director, Sikeston, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development

–Dee Brown, Clarksdale, Mississippi

–Mayor Sheldon Day, Thomasville, Alabama

–Mayor James Sanders, Blytheville, Arkansas

–Mayor Marco McClendon of West Memphis

Discussion

10:a.m. to 11:30 a.m.–Education, Workforce Development and Jobs

–Sen. Keith Ingram of West Memphis

-Alan Gumbel, Interim Executive Director, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, Memphis, Tennessee

–Mark O’Mell, Director, Arkansas Crossroads Coalition (Cross, Poinsett, Jackson, Woodruff, Monroe, Phillips, Lee and Crittenden counties)

-Mayor Pro Tem and City Commissioner Richard Abraham, Paducah, Kentucky

–Kyla Guyette, Director, Workforce Investment Network, Shelby County Mayor’s Office, Tennessee,

11:30 to 11:45 a.m.–Health care and nutrition speakers

Arnetta Macklin, Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA), of Memphis, Tennessee on health and nutrition programs for senior citizens

Millie Atkins, long-time Delta regional advocate and community leader from Monroe, Louisiana

11:45 a.m. to noon–Victor Jones of Southern Poverty Law Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

NOON TO 1:20 P.M.–Luncheon

Daryl Bassett, Director of AR Dept. of Workforce Services, introduced by Randy Henderson, Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas

Mike Preston, Director, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, introduced by Rex Nelson, Senior Editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

President David Rudd of the University of Memphis

Chancellor Debra West of Arkansas State University Mid-South

Appreciation for Sponsors

Greater Delta Region Conference, April 25-26, 2019

Arkansas State University Mid-South, West Memphis, Arkansas

LEAD SPONSOR

Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville, Arkansas

MAJOR CO-SPONSORS

Municipal League for the State of Illinois

Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission, Blytheville, Arkansas

SPONSORS

Sultana Steamboat Disaster Museum

Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber Commerce and Economic Development

Harvey Joe Sanner, President of the American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, Des Arc, Arkansas

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas

Delta Grassroots Partners

Last but not least, we would like to thank the hundreds of grassroots partners across the Greater Delta Region and elsewhere across the country for their many contributions of registration fees, annual membership dues, and other voluntary contributions in the amounts of $150, $125, $100, $75, $50 and $25.

As a grassroots private sector coalition, we need to have a diversified financial base with large numbers of medium-sized and smaller contributions, and we could not do our work without these numerous contributions.