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.

Please Take Part in DRA Annual Conference, June 23-25 in New Orleans

Posted on April 14, 2008 at 10:40 AM

We would like to encourage the partners of the Delta Grassroots Caucus to take part in the annual conference of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), scheduled for June 23-25 in New Orleans. This will be an excellent conference. The DRA asked us to forward the message included below about the conference and we are glad to do so.

This will make two important conferences in June for the Delta. The Delta Grassroots Caucus annual initiative in Washington, DC is set for June 3-5. Our conference is a nongovernmental, grassroots lobbying initiative to urge Members of Congress, national executive branch officials, and the Presidential campaigns to do more for the Delta’s future. The DRA, of course, is a governmental agency and as such is not allowed to lobby. We always want to be 100% supportive of the DRA and commend Pete Johnson, Rex Nelson, Bill Triplett and all the DRA staff for all the fine work they do for our region. Lee Powell, MDGC



The Delta Regional Authority has as its annual conference theme “Reimagining The Delta.” The annual conference is scheduled for June 23-25 at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown New Orleans. The DRA held its first annual conference in 2004 in New Orleans.

“We felt it was important to return to this great city as it continues to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina,” said Pete Johnson of Clarksdale, Miss., the DRA’s federal co-chairman.

The annual conference, which is expected to attract several hundred business and community leaders from throughout the eight-state DRA region, has no registration fee this year. Those wishing to register should go to For additional information, call Sissy Kidd at (501) 686-6195.

Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton are available for as little as $131 per night. Call 1-800-826-8987 to book rooms and mention the group code of “dradraa.”

The conference will begin at 1 p.m. on Monday, June 23, with a technical assistance workshop. The four-hour workshop will be held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. The workshop is designed to make participants aware of the many funding opportunities and other resources available to rural communities.

At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 24, the DRA’s federal co-chairman will speak on the work of the authority and the future of the region. Johnson was nominated by President Bush in March 2001 to be the authority’s first federal co-chairman and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in September 2001. He has guided the authority since its inception.

At 9:30 a.m. on June 24, Ron Crouch of the University of Louisville will speak on the changing demographic face of the Delta. Crouch, the director of the university’s Kentucky State Data Center, has developed a national database that analyzes trends by both census regions and states. He also has compiled census profiles for all 50 states. Crouch will discuss how the population of the region is aging, becoming more diverse and moving from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy.

At 11 a.m. on June 24, Jon Roberts of TIP Strategies Inc. of Austin, Texas, will speak on the vision for the Delta in the new century. Roberts is a nationally recognized consultant in the areas of strategic planning and redevelopment analysis. TIP Strategies is helping the DRA board create a strategic development plan for the 240 counties and parishes it serves.

The June 24 luncheon speaker will be well-known Southern author Rick Bragg. In 1996, Bragg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for what the judges called “elegantly written stories on contemporary America.” They included stories on the country sheriff who caught Susan Smith, an Alabama prison where old inmates go to die, a Mississippi washerwoman who became a national hero and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Following the luncheon, Bragg will sign his new book, “The Prince of Frogtown.”

At 2:15 p.m. on June 24, political expert Michael Barone will discuss the 2008 presidential election. Barone, a senior writer for U.S. News &World Report, is the co-author every two years of “The Almanac of American Politics.” Recognized as one of the nation’s foremost political authorities, Barone is a contributor to the Fox News Channel and the author of several books.

“We’re fortunate to have Michael Barone with us,” Johnson said. “He is in much demand in a presidential election year.”

A reception for conference participants will be held from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. on June 24. On Wednesday, June 25, a continental breakfast for conference participants will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 9 a.m.

“The evening reception and the breakfast the next morning will provide an excellent opportunity for people from across our region to visit, renew old friendships, make new friends, compare notes and discuss the future of the Delta,” Johnson said.

At 9 a.m. on June 25, Sean Cummings will speak on the future of New Orleans. Cummings is the president of ekistics Inc., a New Orleans-based real estate development firm that has created lofts and boutique hotels that mix historic architecture and the city’s unique culture. Cummings also serves as the chief executive officer of the New Orleans Building Corp. In this government-appointed role, he recently signed a deal with New York-based Full Spectrum NY to redevelop the World Trade Center of New Orleans as a mixed-used project that will bring the corporation almost $30 million.

At 10:30 a.m. on June 25, Nicolas Perkin of the New Orleans Receivables Exchange will speak on how to keep talent in the region. Perkin brings extensive management and analytical experience to the exchange. He once worked as the vice president of global business development for Massive Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft Corp. in May 2006 for a reported $200 million. Perkin is considered one of the region’s most talented young entrepreneurs.

“This promises to be our best conference yet,” Johnson said. “I hope people will go to to register early. We expect a large crowd, especially since there’s no charge for registration.”

The DRA is a federal-state partnership that serves parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Johnson serves on the DRA board with the governors of the eight states. Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama is the state co-chairman.

The DRA operates a highly successful grant program in each of the eight states. This program allows cash-strapped cities and counties to leverage money from other agencies. The DRA also has expended its regional initiatives in the areas of leadership development, transportation, health care and information technology.