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.

Save Dates of May 5-6, 2011 for Delta Conference at Clinton Presidential Center

Posted on November 15, 2010 at 01:26 PM

Please save the dates of May 5-6, 2011 for the annual Delta Grassroots Caucus conference to promote economic development in the Greater Delta Region, held at the Clinton Presidential Center. The opening session is Thursday evening, May 5, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, and then we continue at the Clinton Presidential Library on Friday, May 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library.

We will focus on job creation and economic recovery, with support for the Delta Regional Authority, investments in rural development and other infrastructure, support for progress on the Interstate 69 Corridor and the rest of the Delta Development Highway System plan, broadband expansion, the Delta’s heritage-related tourism in blues, regional history, and natural resource-related tourism, educational improvements, “green jobs” and increased use of renewable energy, support for the Community Health House network and other health care innovations, and other regional issues.

While support for the DRA is always important, it is now even moreso because we need to be sure and defeat the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility’s ill-advised and destructive recommendation to abolish the DRA. This suggestion was greeted by countless and vehement objections throughout the region and by all advocates for economic development, because the DRA promotes job growth, thereby helping the economic recovery and also reducing the deficits by putting taxpayers back to work.

We encourage all our partners to contact your Members of Congress and governors and convey the facts about the DRA’s constructive work for the regional economy.

There is bipartisan support for the DRA: for example, Republican U.S. Representative and Senator-Elect John Boozman and Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln both stated strong support for the DRA, as have many other Members of Congress from the eight-state region.

Examples of Congressional reactions included Sen.-Elect Boozman’s excellent statement that the DRA “has proven its benefits to Arkansas citizens, communities and businesses. I will not support elimination of this program because the gains we’ve seen are evident. While the deficit commission has been tasked to find ways we can save taxpayer dollars, its proposals don’t reflect the positive outcomes the Delta Regional Authority produces.”

Sen. Lincoln made a similarly beneficial statement, saying “Rural communities in the Delta often have difficulty accessing larger federal grant programs because they can’t meet match requirements. The DRA has helped communities throughout the region tap into those resources and complete economic development projects.”

We have natural allies within as well as outside the Delta, because all regional commissions were included in the deficits commission’s proposal for abolishing them. There is strong support in the thirteen states of the Appalachian Regional Commission for continuation of that agency and in Alaska for their Denali Commission. There were several new commissions authorized under the 2008 farm bill in regions such as the Southwest Border, Southeast Crescent, Northern Border, and Northern Great Plains, although these commissions have received little or no funding as of yet.

The Delta Caucus helped generate media coverage criticizing the commission’s proposal to abolish regional commissions in Arkansas, the Memphis Commercial Appeal and other media in the eight-state region from the Louisiana coast to southern Illinois and Missouri.

For the opening session at the Clinton School of Public Service on Thursday, May 5, 2011 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., we plan to invite President Willliam Jefferson Clinton, Delta Regional Authority Federal Cochairman Chris Masingill of Arkansas, Governor Mike Beebe, the Clinton administration’s US Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater and grassroots leaders from across the region.

James “Skip” Rutherford, Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, is a strong advocate for the Delta and always does a great job of hosting the opening session at the school.

For the Friday, May 6, 2011 session from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Clinton Presidential Library’s Great Hall, we plan to invite Senator-Elect John Boozman, Sen. Mark Pryor, Representative-Elect Rick Crawford, and other newly elected officials, Alternate Federal Cochairman Mike Marshall of Missouri, and grassroots leaders from the eight-state region.

We would encourage all partners of the Delta Grassroots Caucus to send in annual membership dues for at least the minimum $25 level. We have thousands of partners across the region and in the DC area, and it would be a major plus for our budget if all our partners contributed $25 each.

For medium-sized partners, those who wish to contribute more than the $25 minimum are asked to send in $50, and for larger banks, chambers of commerce, foundations, corporations, universities and colleges, many contribute $100 or $150.

We have received a number of very generous $100 and $150 membership dues contributions, but would emphasize that if every one of our partners would contribute the $25, it would be a huge plus. Due to the weak economy we know many can’t afford the larger level of dues, but hopefully the $25 level is acceptable to all.

Please make out the $25 check, or the larger amounts if you prefer, to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” with a notation, “For dues,” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

Please keep communicating with the national, regional and state “powers that be” on our regional economic development issues, and save the dates for the May 5-6, 2011 annual Delta conference at the Clinton Presidential Center. Thanks very much–Lee Powell, director, MDGC (202) 360-6347