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.

Overview of the Crossroads Coalition's Comprehensive Developmental Approach

Posted on March 30, 2008 at 11:40 AM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus commends the work of the Crossroads Coalition, a comprehensive initiative comprised of organizations and individuals working to enhance and promote broad-based development (economic, community, education and leadership) in a 10-county area of the eastern Arkansas Delta. Below we have an overview of this coalition sent to us by Otto Loewer, director of the University of Arkansas Economic Development Institute and one of the key leaders of the Crossroads Coalition.

We encourage our partners to be supportive of the work of the Crossroads Coalition, and many other areas throughout the region may find best practices and models provided by this coalition that they might want to pursue in their part of the Delta.

An Overview of the Crossroads Coalition

By Otto J. Loewer, Director and Professor, University of Arkansas Economic Development Institute (UAEDI), and advisor to the Crossroads Coalition March 27, 2008

I’m very pleased to provide the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus with an overview of the Crossroads Coalition. If any of you would like more information or wish to be included on the Crossroads Coalition electronic mailing list (meeting notifications and a monthly newsletter), cer-tainly feel free to contact me directly at 479-575-5118 or through email ( Likewise, extensive details about the Crossroads may be found at .

Composition and Mission: The Crossroads Coalition is a comprehensive initiative comprised of partnering organizations and individuals, all of whom are actively seeking to enhance and promote broad-based development (economic, community, education and leadership) in eastern Arkansas.

Region: The Crossroads Coalition is comprised of 10 eastern Arkansas counties (Crittenden, Cross, Jackson, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, St. Francis and Woodruff) located across the Mississippi River from Memphis, TN and having a combined population of 254,000. The Crossroads Coalition region is one of the major agricultural areas in the United States in the production of rice, soybeans and cotton. Logistics and transportation are major strengths with the region having two interstate highways (I-40 and I-55), inter-modal facilities, the Mississippi River as its eastern border, and the world’s largest freight airport in Memphis.

The area is blessed with a plentiful and high quality water supply and ample outdoor recreational activities. The region is a major producer of steel, and a number of auto parts manufacturers have recently located in the area. The Crossroads Coalition is near the geographical and population center of the United States. The intersection of the region’s two interstates has one of the nation’s highest truck traffic counts.

Vision Statement: The Crossroads Coalition is a catalyst for continuing improvement of prosper-ity, opportunity, and other quality of life considerations (such employment, housing, education, health care, recreation and the national environment) in the Region.

State and National Perspective: The Crossroads Coalition seeks to be a state and national model for comprehensive broad-based development of rural communities, to be extended, expanded and replicated elsewhere.

Comprehensive Organization: The Crossroads Coalition organizational structure includes an Ex-ecutive Director (to be in place by the summer of 2008), Board of Directors, Foundation, the Technology Center for the Delta, and four Pillar Groups (one for each area of broad-based devel-opment: economic, education, community and leadership).

Furthermore, the five community colleges in the Crossroads (Mid South Community College in West Memphis, East Arkansas Com-munity College in Forrest City, Arkansas State University at Newport, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas in Helena, Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville), as part of the Crossroads Coalition initiative, have created the Arkansas Delta Training and Education Con-sortium (ADTEC) and are working with ADWIRED (Arkansas Delta Workforce Innovations in Regional Economic Development) as part of a national workforce development initiative. Dr. Gibson (Sunny) Morris is currently Executive Director of the ADWIRED Academy. Prior to this assignment, Dr. Morris was Liaison for Special Projects, Office of the President at Mid-South Community College.

Historical Overview: Planning for the Crossroads Coalition began in 2002 out of a concern by many in the area that their communities would see further decline in prosperity and wellbeing unless a regional cooperative effort was developed. The first annual meeting of the Crossroads Coalition was held in 2005 after considerable planning and the development of a comprehensive organizational structure.

Meeting Schedule: There are monthly meetings of the four pillar groups with each focusing on one of areas of broad-based development (economic, education, community and leadership). The Board of Directors also meets monthly. Meeting schedules and minutes are posted on the website. Monthly meetings are normally scheduled for the 3rd Wednesday of each month. An annual meet-ing is held in November of each year.

Membership Fees: The Crossroads Coalition Board of Directors is currently working on a formal membership fee structure. To date, a somewhat informal membership has been in place based on attendance at the Annual Meeting and participation in pillar group activities.

Selected Accomplishments: ADTEC has directly and indirectly through ADWIRED received over $30 million in external funds, largely for workforce development. The Technology Center for the Delta was created (a $2 million project). An extensive website has been developed includ-ing CARL (the Crossroads Asset and Resource Library) that allows the Coalition to periodically document its assets and resources. A monthly electronic newsletter is distributed (contact to receive this).

The SEED (Students Engaged in Economic Development) program has been implemented that connects the needs of community for low-cost creative ideas to the needs of students for “real world” projects as part of college courses. High school students through the EAST program have become increasingly involved using CARL as means for sharing information. A very successful Legislative Agenda was prepared for the last legislative session, and this will be repeated. And perhaps most importantly, a formal network of those with an interest in the mission of the Crossroads has been created and is actively at work for the betterment of the region.

Awards and Recognition: As part of the Crossroads initiative, various entities have received awards and recognition to include: 2007 Southern Growth Policies Board Innovator Award (ADTEC); University Economic Development Association Finalist in 2007 for the Partnership Development Award (UAEDI); and the Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration Best Paper awards in 2003 and 2004 (Crossroads Coalition and UAEDI).

Philosophy and Strategy: The Crossroads Coalition has a written philosophy and strategy (posted on the website). In summary, it says that: (1) All are encouraged to participate who have an inter-est in the region and who agree to work respectfully with others; (2) Innovation is to be encouraged; (3) Mutually beneficial partnerships are always being sought as a means for leveraging resources and enhancing the prosperity and well-being of the region.

Headquarters: Technology Center for the Delta, 1790 North Falls Blvd. Wynne, AR 72396; Phone (870) 238-9300

Website and Newsletter: The Crossroads Coalition website con-tains detailed information about the Coalition’s organizational structure, background, partners, participants, future meetings, minutes, events, news, projects, legislative agenda, contacts and the electronic Crossroads Assets and Resources Library (CARL). The newsletter focuses on on-going projects and future events. The Coalition’s website and newsletter are sponsored by the University of Arkansas Economic Development Institute (UAEDI) ( as part of its ongoing partnership with the Crossroads Coalition.

Contact Information: Requests to be added to Crossroads mailing List: Otto Loewer, 479-575-5118, Chair of the Board of Directors: LeRoy Dangeau -

Economic Development Pillar Group: Kay Brockwell,

Education Development Pillar Group: Carol Brown,

Community Development Pillar Group: Pat Audirsch,

Leadership Development Pillar Group: Jerry Smith,

Foundation: Buddy Billingsley -

Technology Center for the Delta: James Langston, 870-238-4025,

ADTEC: Pauline Vernon -

ADWIRED: Sunny Morris -

Newsletter: Carolyne Garcia:

Website: Cristina Scarlat,

General Information/UAEDI: Otto Loewer, 479-575-5118,