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.

Mississippi River Mayors Initiative Formed: & Space Filling Up for May 2-3 Delta Event

Posted on March 22, 2013 at 10:18 AM

This newsletter will highlight the Delta Caucus’ endorsement of the creation of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI), as well as updating the May 2-3 Delta conference, in which we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s Delta Regional Initiative and hear from US Sen. Mark Pryor, US Sen. John Boozman, US Rep. Tom Cotton, the major gubernatorial candidates, and leaders from all eight Delta states. US Rep. Rick Crawford is invited.

Space is filling up for the May 2-3 Delta conference so please RSVP and register by replying to this email or contacting us at (202) 360-6347 or

President Clinton has delivered brilliant, live audio presentations on five previous occasions and is invited to do so again this year. Gov. Mike Beebe has spoken every year as well.

The Delta Caucus would like to take this opportunity to praise Gov. Beebe for his statesmanlike, courageous leadership on Medicaid expansion, the Osceola steel mill project and other job creation initiatives, education and other issues in the legislative session. He is a stalwart supporter of the Delta Regional Authority and we support him 100%.

“Delta Caucus Endorses New Mayors Initiative Along the Mississippi River and new Congressional Mississippi River Caucus”

The Delta Caucus welcomes an organization of the mayors of cities on the Mississippi River from the Gulf Coast to Minnesota aimed at advocating for the community and economic development of the great river. A new Congressional Mississippi River Caucus was formed to support the mayors’ initiative, which has funding from the Walton Family Foundation.

Mayor A. C. Wharton of Memphis, Mayor Larry Brown of Natchez, Mississippi, Mayor Dickie Kennemore of Osceola, Arkansas, and many other Mississippi River mayors joined Congressman Rick Crawford (AR), Congressman Steve Fincher (TN), Senator Tom Harkin (IA), Senator Roy Blunt (MO), and other Members of Congress at the Cannon House of Representatives building to announce the new initiative.

Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall of the Delta Regional Authority was there to represent the DRA.

Lee Powell, Delta Grassroots Caucus director, was there to lend the grassroots regional coalition’s support for this effort. “We welcome this effort to highlight issues such as greater funding for locks, dams, levees and other Mississippi River infrastructure, as well as a strong farm bill that will help promote the development of our region,” Powell said. Powell spoke with Delta mayors and Members of Congress, as well as Senator Harkin and other leaders of the northern half of the Mississippi River about the importance of joining forces along the entire length of the river from Louisiana to Mississippi collaborate on common areas of interest.

MRCTI Mayors unveiled a Mississippi River Platform that calls for:

• Enacting an environmentally sound and financially sustainable Water Resources Development Act that includes a Mississippi River Environmental Restoration, Protection and Sustainability Program

• Fostering the continued growth and increased effectiveness of the newly-formed bipartisan Congressional Mississippi River Caucus

• Focusing Federal resources where they can advance the most improvement in the Mississippi River’s water quality

• Passing a comprehensive Farm Bill that allows cities to participate in and receive funding from the Conservation Stewardship Program, establishes a national sod saver program, and reestablishes the historic link between conservation compliance and crop insurance premium subsidies

• Establishing a National Drought Council that works with stakeholders to create a drought policy action plan and comprehensive national drought preparedness legislation

• Establishing a multi-agency Federal initiative to develop and implement a coordinated strategy that aids local governments as they address aquatic invasive species in the Mississippi River Basin

• Preserving the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program for hazard planning and project implementation, and fund that program during Fiscal Year 2014 at a level of $100 million Participating MRCTI Mayors included: Mayor Slay, St. Louis, MO – Co-Chair; Mayor Kleis, St. Cloud, MN – Co-Chair; Mayor Huber, Prescott, WI; Mayor Buol, Dubuque, IA; Mayor Smiley, Clarksville, MO; Mayor Thompson, Grafton, IL; Mayor Hoechst, Alton, IL; Mayor Wharton, Memphis, TN; Mayor Kennemore, Osceola, AR; Mayor Winfield, Vicksburg, MS; Mayor Brown, Natchez, MS; and Mayor Copeland, Vidalia, LA.

MRCTI is modeled after the successful Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and is coordinated by the nonprofit Northeast-Midwest Institute, with funding from the Walton Family Foundation to create an influential new voice for the Mississippi River that dramatically increases demand for effective river protection, restoration and management in Washington, D.C.

The recent severe drought and floods severely impacted the towns, cities and people who live and make a living along the Mississippi River highlighted the urgent need for a unified effort to protect and sustain the River.

A photographic exhibit at the Cannon House of Representatives Caucus Room showcased the beauty and importance of the River. Sponsored by Ingram Barge Company, the exhibit was displayed over a giant floor map of the River and featured the work of professional photographers from cities spanning the river’s entire length.

The Mississippi River is responsible for creating $105 billion worth of U.S. GDP; providing drinking water for more than 18 million; transporting 62 percent of our nation’s agricultural output; delivering nearly 400 tons of coal and petroleum products; and directly supporting one million jobs and millions more indirectly.


Space is filling up for the May 2-3, 2013 Delta regional economic development conference at the Clinton Library. Speakers include Sen. Mark Pryor, Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Tom Cotton, gubernatorial candidates Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman, grassroots leaders from the eight states. Gov. Beebe has spoken every year and is invited. President Clinton has given superb live audio presentations in five of the last six years and is invited to do so again.

Former Congressman Mike Ross has not announced whether he will run for governor. He will be given a prominent speaking slot if he does. Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is invited.

We will be conducting activities that we have never done before: commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Delta Regional Initiative, and announcing a package of “best practices” and exemplary role model projects for the community and economic development of the Greater Delta Region.

James “Skip” Rutherford, Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, always does a great job of hosting the opening service. The Clinton School has a lengthy and impressive record of attention to constructive activities in the Delta, including 31 public service projects by Clinton School graduate students in the Delta.

Other participants include Delta Regional Authority officials, Bill Bynum, CEO of Hope Enterprise Corp., President Ivye Allen of the Foundation for the Mid-South, George Miles, director of the Delta Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), Bob Nash, head of Bob J. Nash & Associates and formerly White House Director of Presidential Personnel and USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, Joe Quinn, Senior Director for Issue Management and Strategic Outreach, representatives of Fed Ex Express in Memphis, Ken Smith, former US Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Martha Jane Murray, energy policy expert for the Clinton Foundation, Barrett Harrison of the Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority, representatives from ASU, UAPB, UA-Monticello, Murray State University, Mid-South Community College, Southern Illinois University, Grambling, Ole Miss, Southern Bancorp, Heifer International, the East Arkansas Enterprise Community, Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission, Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in East Prairie, Missouri, the southeast Missouri food bank based in Cape Girardeau, and many other Delta nonprofits, corporations and economic and community development organizations.

We would like to express our special thanks to Fed Ex Express of Memphis, Tennessee for being the lead sponsor for this event.

Our major co-sponsors include Heifer International, the Housing Assistance Council in Washington, DC, the City of Sikeston, Missouri, Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in southeast Missouri, Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority, Mississippi County Economic Opportunity Commission, the East Arkansas Enterprise Community, and other sponsors.

Registration, group hotel and schedule information are below in this email.

We will be announcing a package of best practices, role model projects that should be replicated across the region. Many of these will be charitable donations from major corporations or the ongoing work of 501c3 nonprofits. The package will focus on several activities related to President Clinton’s nonpartisan priorities and signature issues, such as renewable energy and energy retrofits/energy efficiency, small business/ entrepreneurialism job creation, nutrition, health care for underserved populations, and education. The purpose of this package of announcements is to highlight the constructive work that is going on by major organizations in the region and encourage similar investments across the region.

This is by invitation only. Space is limited. So please RSVP as soon as possible.

We expect a larger turnout than average for this year’s conference due to the special events.

The conference will include Members of Congress, President Clinton at least by live audio presentation, Gov. Beebe has spoken at eight of our conferences in the past, Delta Regional Authority officials, nonprofits working in the field of Delta community and economic development, universities and colleges, small business leaders, corporations, foundations, farmers, and experts in key regional isuues like renewable energy and energy efficiency, job creation, transportation and other infrastructure, broadband expansion, nutrition, health care, Delta heritage tourism, and other important initiatives for our region.

The region we cover is the entire eight-state region as defined by the Delta Regional Authority from southern Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans, Louisiana. SCHEDULE

OPENING SESSION: Thursday evening, May 2, 2013, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service.

CLINTON LIBRARY SESSION: Friday, May 3, 2013, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Great Hall of the Clinton Library.

GROUP HOTEL: To get the group hotel discount rate, please call the Comfort Inn & Suites at the Clinton Library in Little Rock at 501-687-7700 and say you are with the Delta Caucus. Most people will just stay for the night of May 2, because they will check out in the morning and store their luggage at the hotel and come back at the end of the day’s session at the Clinton Library to pick up the luggage.

We do ask for annual dues now, but it is quite small–$25 once a year–although some organizations contribute $50 or $100, $25 once a year per organization is the only requirement we ask for. The dues are only once a year. Registration fees are a separate category for each conference.


Please make out the $125 check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus 5030 Purslane Place Waldorf, MD 20601

If your local area can get a group of five or more, we will give a group discount and reduce the registration fees to $75 each. It is up to your local area to organize a group of five or more to get a group discount.

We have very important community and economic development issues pending right now and we need to press the “powers that be” to take effective action for our region. Join us in doing so on May 2-3 at the Clinton Center. Lee Powell, executive director, Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347