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.

10th Anniversary of Delta Regional Initiative, May 5-6, 2011 at Clinton Center

Posted on February 03, 2011 at 04:10 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus plans to have several Members of Congress, Gov. Mike Beebe, Delta Regional Authority leaders, and grassroots leaders from all eight states of the Greater Delta Region from southern Missouri and Illinois to New Orleans at our annual Delta conference at the Clinton Presidential Center on May 5-6, 2011. President William Jefferson Clinton has spoken to us over the audio system every year the last three years, and we plan to have him speak either over the audio system or in person if his schedule permits this year. In past years he has also fielded questions from our group, and we always look forward to his thoughtful ideas about the Delta’s economic future.

The theme will be commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta Regional Initiative and the creation of the Delta Regional Authority, as well as planning and visioning for the Delta’s economic future. The DRA legislation was passed with bipartisan support by the Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in late 2000, with the agency starting up soon afterward in 2001.

The Delta Regional Initiative involved a wide range of community and economic development initiatives and was certainly not just confined to support for the DRA. We want to look at the accomplishments of the past 10 years, take a look at where we have succeeded and where we still have difficult issues, and look forward to what initiatives can bring about a better economic future for our region.

A special thanks to Congressman Rick Crawford, the new US Representative for the First District, and to Congressman Mike Ross of the Fourth District for already confirming their times on the program. Congressman Ross will speak at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 6 at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library, and we always look forward to his thoughtful participation. Congressman Crawford will be one of the luncheon speakers on Friday, May 6, and we look forward to getting more familiar with the new Congressman representing east Arkansas. Congressman Crawford’s chief of staff, Jonah Shumate, was an excellent participant at some of our Delta Caucus activities in Washington, DC in the past. He indicates that Rep. Crawford will be a strong supporter of the DRA, and that is very good news.

Gov. Beebe is widely regarded as one of the best governors in America, and he has spoken every year for the past five years and we expect him to do so again this year. We have also invited another new Congressman, Tim Griffin of central Arkansas.

We have invited Senator Mark Pryor and Senator John Boozman. Senator Pryor has done a great job in his thoughtful presentations every year and is a stalwart supporter of the DRA, and we also look forward to hearing from the new Senator, John Boozman, who stated at our conference in Washington, DC last fall that he supports the DRA budget, and that is good news as well. We expect Senators Pryor and Boozman to speak unless Senate votes on that Friday preclude their doing so (it is very unusual for votes to be scheduled on a Friday but this year’s legislative agenda is so jam-packed that they may have some Friday votes).

We look forward to hearing from the new excellent leaders of the Delta Regional Authority, including Federal Cochairman Chris Masingill, Alternate Federal Cochair Mike Marshall of Missouri, chief of staff Bill Triplett, and others affiliated with the DRA in this, the 10th anniversary of the agency’s creation.

OPENING SESSION, MAY 5: The opening session begins at the Clinton School of Public Service on Thursday evening, May 5, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with food and drinks provided. James “Skip” Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School, has been a steadfast partner of the Delta regional movement for many years now and he does a great job of hosting the opening session. We always look forward to having one of the bright young Clinton School graduate students speak about their public service projects in the Delta, and Skip and President Clinton are training new leaders for our region every year.

MAY 6 SESSION: There is an all-day session the next day, Friday, May 6, 2011, at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library from about 8:30 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided for those who have registered.

Please RSVP by responding to this email and sending in the registration fee, if you will be able to attend.

Key issues will be, above all, job creation/economic recovery; support for the DRA; health care improvements for the underserved Delta, including the Community Health House Network; expansion of renewable energy and green jobs as advocated by President Clinton, as well as other energy-related issues; increased broadband access in the Delta; rural housing, small business and other rural development issues; transportation improvements including I-69 and the entire Delta Development Highway System plan; Delta-related heritage tourism; educational improvements; opposition to FEMA’s ill-advised plan to redraw the flood plain maps in such a way as to unjustifiably escalate flood insurance costs, and other key regional issues.

Registration, group hotel & other information continued below:

GROUP HOTEL: The group hotel is the Comfort Inn & Suites near the Clinton Library. To get the cut group rate ($79, which is a good rate for downtown Little Rock) for the night of May 5, call the Comfort Inn at 501-687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus. Most people stay there for the night of Thursday, May 5, check out the next morning on Friday and store their luggage at the hotel and then come back and pick it up Friday afternoon when the conference ends.

Some people also like to stay the night of May 6, and the lower group rate is available for that night as well.

EARLY REGISTRATION FEES AND DEADLINE OF APRIL 27: You register by sending in the early registration fees, which are $100 each.

GROUP DISCOUNTS: Please note, however, that if you register as a group of five people, we will discount the fees down to $85 each, and if you register as a group of 10 or more people, we will discount the fees down to $75 each. People from a particular community, county or other local area can join together as a group to get a discount on the fees.

NOTE–A CHANGE IN THE LATE REGISTRATION FEE LEVEL AFTER APRIL 27: After April 27 the fees go up to $150. The board of directors and others familiar with complications we have had in the past with many people waiting until the last minute to send in their registration fees decided to go up on the late registration fee to $150, to give people an incentive to send in the fees on time in order to save money. Up until now there has not been enough difference between the late and early fees to give people any reason to pick one over the other, so the “early” registration has not helped us as far as getting an accurate count of how many people will be attending.

When so many people register either at the time of the conference or afterward, it creates problems because we have a difficult time getting an accurate estimate of how much food and drinks to buy for the opening session and the luncheon, how many tables and chairs to set up, and the costs of the rental of the Great Hall of the Clinton Library is based on how many people will be there. If many people wait until the time of the event to register, it creates a bottleneck at the front desk and delays the program. So we really do need people to register on time.

Please make out early registration fees to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” and mail by the April 27 deadline to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

For those based in central Arkansas who can only come by for an hour or two, such as state legislators, we will pro-rate the registration fees to some relatively small amount such as $25 because it would not be logical to ask a legislator or someone else who could only come by briefly to pay the full amount.

We are bipartisan and welcome support from Democrats, Republicans, Independents, vegetarians and anybody else who wants to promote economic development in the Greater Delta.

SOME EXAMPLES OF GRASSROOTS PARTICIPANTS: This week we began sending out invitations for grassroots leaders across the region, and this group will be growing every day. We will list a few of those who have agreed to be on the program below:

We will have a group from southeast Missouri, including Alternate DRA Federal Cochairman Mike Marshall of Sikeston, Missouri; Dr. Martha Ellen Black of the Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in East Prairie, Missouri; Bill Ransdall, Gov. Jay Nixon’s DRA designee for Missouri, based in Missouri Department of Economic Development and other Missouri leaders;

A group from the state of Mississippi, including James Miller, manager of the grassroots health care innovation, the Community Health House Network, which has several facilities operating in Mississippi, with plans to expand into Louisiana and Arkansas;

A group from Louisiana led by our long-time Louisiana coordinator, Dr. Obadiah Simmons of Grambling State University, representatives from New Orleans, and other Louisiana participants;

A large group from the First District of Arkansas, to cite just a few examples: Will Staley and/Or Terrence Clark, THRIVE, a nonprofit design firm focusing on economic development in the rural Delta, based in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas; co-manager for the Phillips County business incubator (along with the Phillips County chamber of commerce and Phillips County Community College); Kevin Smith, insurance businessman in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, former aide to US Senator Dale Bumpers and then Governor Bill Clinton, and former state senator; Jerry Smith, Arkansas State University economic development center; State Senator Jack Crumbly, Crittenden County, Laymon Jones, chairman of the Inspire Hope Institute based in Jonesboro and Delta Caucus executive committee member; Harvey Joe Sanner, president of the American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas;

A large group from the Fourth Congressional District: to name a few examples: Desha County Judge Mark McElroy and a large group of other grassroots leaders from Desha County; Chicot County Judge Mack Ball; Mayor JoAnne Bush of Lake Village, Arkansas, and others from southeast Arkansas, Pine Bluff and nearby areas;

A group from central Arkansas, including Skip Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, Little Rock, and a number of Clinton School graduate students, Rex Nelson, president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities, former DRA Alternate Federal cochair, senior aide to former Gov. Mike Huckabee, and others from Little Rock;

Representatives from Alabama, including J. William McFarland, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Services at the University of West Alabama’s College of Business, Livingston, Alabama, and our long-time leader from Alabama, Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville;

Western Kentucky representatives including Josh Tubbs, Economic Development office of Marshall County, and representatives of Murray State University; West Tennessee Delta representatives including Vivian Fry-Greer and Charita Johnson of the nonprofit Shiloh Distribution Center and others from Tennessee;

Southern Illinois representatives; as always we will invite Mayor Brad Cole of Carbondale, representatives of Southern Illinois University, and other Illinois grassroots leaders.

You RSVP by responding to this email and you register by paying the registration fees.

Please help us advocate for the Greater Delta Region at the Clinton Center on May 5-6, 2011.

Lee Powell, executive director, Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347