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.

President Clinton to Speak on Friday morning, May 6 at Delta Conference, Clinton Library

Posted on June 05, 2011 at 09:41 AM

May 2, 2011

President Clinton to Speak at 8:30 a..m., Friday, May 6, at Delta Conference in the Clinton Library

President William Jefferson Clinton will speak at 8:30 a.m., Friday morning, May 6, 2011 at the Delta Caucus conference live over the audio at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library. The doors open and the conference starts bright and early at 8 a.m. and please be there to hear President Clinton’s presentation about job creation/economic recovery, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Delta Regional Authority and the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta Regional Initiative, renewable energy and green jobs.

At this time of devastating storms and flooding across our region, no one can speak with more empathy and depth in such troubled times as President Bill Clinton.

President Clinton’s superb presentations are always a highlight of these conferences so we encourage everbody to be there bright and early on Friday morning, May 6. We will have coffee and tea there to help everybody get moving at 8 a.m. when the doors open and we will begin with a panel on regional economic development.

We are getting hideous reports about the disasters all across the region. Martha Ellen Black and others in southeast Missouri are evacuating today because they are blowing a levee to save Cairo, Illinois. Our colleague Brad Cole, now an aide to US Senator Kirk of Illinois, will be working on flooded areas there all week and of course can’t make the conference either. We have a partner from Tuscaloosa who was not hurt in the tornado, thank God. Almost all of the eastern half of Arkansas counties are now disaster areas. The White River levee in east Arkansas is also under tremendous stress and they are concerned that it may break.

I saw terrible tornado damage in driving down from the Washington, DC area. One storm I drove through nearly blew my van off the road, but I got to Little Rock fine. We will have former FEMA Associate Director Kay Goss, an internationally recognized disaster relief expert, Gov. Beebe, Members of Congress, DRA Federal Cochairman Chris Masingill and others who can help with various phases of disaster relief at the conference.

Here we would like to provide contact information for disaster relief, and below we will give the updated agenda for the May 5-6 Delta conference:

For information on how to locate and apply for disaster relief, go to

For the Disaster Recovery Center Locator, type in

For state emergency agencies, type in the following to reach the websites:









You register by mailing in the registration fees. There is no registration form to fill out in order to eliminate unnecessary paper work. The early registration fees are $100. Fees sent in after April 27 will be at the late registration fee level of $150, although we want to apply that flexibly for people who did not learn about the conference until very late–it is always difficult to invite everybody who might be interested over eight states and the Washington, DC area. Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus 5030 Purslane Place Waldorf, MD, 20601

GROUP HOTEL: The group hotel deadline is May 2, and we would encourage you to take advantage of the lower group discount at the group hotel and make your reservations ASAP. The group hotel is the Comfort Inn & Suites near the Clinton Library. To get the lower group rate of $79 (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.

KEY ISSUES: The storms and flooding are obviously the most pressing issue right now. Job creation/economic recovery is the top issue, with almost all other issues being related to it. Key issues will be commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Delta Regional Authority and the Clinton administration’s bipartisan Delta Regional Initiative, looking at what has worked thus far and where we still have serious issues for the present and future. We want to focus on energy policy, including renewable energy like biomass and biofuels, improved energy efficiency and green jobs. We will have a debate with advocates pro and con as to whether development of lignite can be done in an environmentally friendly way.

Health care issues like expansion of the Community Health House Network, hunger and nutrition, rural development, transportation and other infrastructure, education improvements, broadband, disaster relief and other FEMA-related issues, tourism initiatives with examples like the Japanese American Relocation Site, Visitors & Interpretive Center in southeast Arkansas, promising initiatives like Arkansas Baptist College, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Delta Citizens Alliance, and other innovations. We will have a panel focusing on regionalism and why it makes sense to take a regional approach to economic development.

Below is the latest draft of the agenda, which may have last-minute changes. Thanks–Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347


“At the Crossroads: 10th Anniversary of the Delta Regional Initiative and the DRA’s Creation”

Annual Conference, May 5-6, 2011 Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, Arkansas


5 p.m. to 5:25 p.m.–RECEPTION Introduction–Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus

5:30 to 5:45 p.m.–Forum on Issues Regarding Development of Lignite in the Delta:

Rep. Garry Smith, AR, advocating for lignite development conducted in an environmentally friendly way to create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil

Former US Assistant Secretary of the Interior Ken Smith, environmental and energy expert, expressing concerns about environmental impact of lignite

5:45 to 5:50–James “Skip” Rutherford, Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and Clinton School Graduate Student, Fernando Cutz

5:50 to 6:20 p.m.–Federal Cochairman Chris Masingill of the Delta Regional Authority–Presentation and then Questions and Answers–the DRA at its 10th anniversary, its accomplishments, remaining challenges for the future

Note: There will be question and answer periods here and at several other sessions. We are glad to have Dr. Elizabeth Hood, Distinguished Professor at the Arkansas State University Biosciences Institute, an expert in biomass, at the conference and we plan for her to take part in these discussion sessions to make sure renewable energy is included in the dialogue.

6:20 to 6:28 p.m.–Robert Cole, East Arkansas Enterprise Community, on the value of regional approaches to economic development

6:28 to 6:36–Mayor Jack May, McGehee, Arkansas, on the new Japanese American Relocation Site, Visitors & Interpretive Center in southeast Arkansas commemorating the story of Japanese Americans held in southeast Arkansas during World War II–an excellent example of Delta heritage-related tourism

6:36 to 6:40 p.m.–Mayor May presents Inspire Hope Institute Award to a distinguished grassroots leader in the Delta for his decades of service to economic development in the Delta; this is only the second time the Inspire Hope Institute Award has ever been given (it is jointly awarded by the Delta Grassroots Caucus and the Inspire Hope Institute of Jonesboro, Arkansas, Chair, Laymon Jones)

6:40 p.m. to 8 p.m.–Best Practices and Models for Development in the Greater Mississippi Delta region

  1. Obadiah Simmons, Grambling State University, Louisiana, Moderator and Speaker

  2. Bill Ransdall, Missouri Department of Economic Development, Governor Jay Nixon’s DRA Designee for Missouri (Governor Nixon is the state cochairman of the DRA)

  3. Mayor James Sanders, Blytheville, Arkansas

  4. Mississippi County (AR) Judge Randy Carney

  5. Charita Johnson Burgess, Shiloh Distribution Center, Lexington, Tennessee

  6. Loretta Daniel, Murray State University, Director, Regional Business & Innovation Center, Murray, Kentucky


8 a.m. to 10 a.m.–Big Picture Panel on Regional Economic Development

  1. Johnnie Bolin, Moderator and speaker, executive director, Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council (Mr. Bolin is from Crossett in Ashley County)

  2. J. William McFarland, Alabama, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Services, University of West Alabama College of Business, Livingston, Alabama

PRESIDENT WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON 8:30 A.M.– Introduced by Fernando Cutz, a Clinton School of Public Service graduate student. President Clinton has given superb live presentations over the audio system the last three years in a row, and we look forward to hearing his comments about disaster recovery from the storms and flooding in the Delta; renewable energy policy and green jobs; and his thoughts both in reflection and looking to the future about the 10th anniversary of the Clinton administration’s Delta Regional Initiative and the creation of the Delta Regional Authority.

  1. Joe Black, Southern Bancorp, Helena-West Helena, AR (Southern Bancorp conducts extensive development activities in many locations across the Delta)

  2. Mayor Jo Anne Bush, Lake Village, Arkansas

  3. James Stapleton, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

10 A.M. TO 10:30 A.M.–Congressman Mike Ross Introduction by Chicot County Judge Mack Ball

10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.–Governor Mike Beebe Introduction by Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, Rep. Robert Moore of Arkansas City


  1. Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus, based in Washington, DC
  2. Larry Williams, CEO, Delta Citizens Alliance, based in Greenville, Mississippi, active in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi
  3. Mike Marshall, Alternate Federal Cochairman, Delta Regional Authority, Sikeston, Missouri
  4. Kevin Smith, former aide to US Senator Dale Bumpers and then Gov. Bill Clinton, former state senator, now a businessman in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas
  5. Jerry Smith, Arkansas State University economic development center

LUNCHEON–12:15 P.M. TO 1:30 P.M.

12:15–Showing of a video regarding the Delta Regional Authority (seven minutes)

  1. Kay Goss, SRA Corp., Associate Director of FEMA in the Clinton administration
  2. The Hon. Rodney Slater, US Secretary of Transportation in the Clinton administration, now parter, Patton Boggs, Washington, DC

  3. CONGRESSMAN RICK CRAWFORD Introduction by Rex Nelson, President, Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities and former DRA Alternate Federal Cochairman

1:30 p.m. 2:50 p.m. to HEALTH CARE AND NUTRITION PANEL

  1. James Miller, manager of Community Health House Network, Oxford International Development Group, Oxford, Mississippi
  2. Tamidra Marable, Heifer International
  3. State Senator Jack Crumbly, east Arkansas
  4. Vivian Fry–Greer, Shiloh Distribution Center, Lexington, Tennessee
  5. Natalie Jayroe, CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, Louisiana; Mike Kantor, public policy coordinator, Second Harvest Food Food Bank of Greater New Orleans


  1. President Fitzgerald Hill, Arkansas Baptist College

  2. Anitha Kobusingye, Arkansas Baptist College student from Rwanda

  3. Arkansas Baptist College student or staff–speaker of President Hill’s choosing

  4. Catherine Bahn, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship project, Helena-West Helena, AR

  5. Terrance Clark, nonprofit THRIVE organization, manager for Phillips County Small Business incubator project

  6. Alan Gumbel, Memphis, Tennessee, Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association

Sponsors for the Delta Grassroots Caucus, May 5-6, 2011 Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock Arkansas

We would like to express our deep appreciation to J.D. “Doc” Bilberry, President of the McGehee Industrial Foundation, 2011 recipient of the Inspire Hope Award, for his many decades of distinguished service to the Delta’s economic development.

Lead Sponsor

Delta Regional Authority

Major Co-Sponsors

Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Southeast Arkansas Delta Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville, Arkansas Grassroots Partners

Inspire Hope Institute, Chairman,Laymon Jones

National Housing Assistance Council, Washington, DC

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas

Heifer International

Delta Citizens Alliance, Greenville, MS
(Active in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas)

Grambling State University, Louisiana

Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center, Southeast Missouri

McGehee Industrial Foundation, Arkansas

University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service

Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission


Desha County Judge Mark McElroy

Southeast Missouri Delta Grassroots Partners

East Arkansas Enterprise Community

Shiloh Distribution Center, Lexington, Tennessee

Northeast Arkansas Delta Grassroots Partners

American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas

Delta Grassroots Caucus Partners

Last but not least, we would like to thank the hundreds of people and organizations who made smaller contributions in the range of $50 and $85 in the form of annual membership dues, registration fees and other contributions. For a grassroots regional coalition, we need to have a diversified, broad base of financial support from large numbers of relatively small contributions. The large number of these contributions really adds up to a major part of our budget, and we could not do our work without these donations.