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.

Innovative Activities of the Crossroads Coalition in the Delta, August, 2013

Posted on August 14, 2013 at 01:13 PM

In this newsletter we highlight the beneficial, innovative work of the Crossroads Coalition in east Arkansas. Heather Maxwell, the coalition’s executive director, gave an excellent presentation at the May, 2013 Delta Caucus conference at the Clinton Library and the Crossroads Coalition will again have a group of leaders at the upcoming Delta conference at the Memphis, Tennessee Agri-Center International on Oct. 17-18, 2013.

PLEASE RSVP FOR THE OCT. 17-18 DELTA CONFERENCE AT THE MEMPHIS AGRI-CENTER: For registration, schedule, group hotel and other basic information about the Oct. 17-18 Delta conference at the Memphis Agri-Center see the link on this website above called “Caucus Articles and scroll down to the article summarizing information about the Oct. 17-18 Delta conference at the Agri-Center.


Crossroads Coalition is an economic alliance of eight counties in the eastern Arkansas Delta. The coalition stretches from Crittenden County in the north to Phillips County in the south. Woodruff and Monroe make up the westernmost counties. And, in the heart of the coalition, running from north to south, are the counties of Poinsett, Cross, St. Francis, and Lee.

Crossroads Coalition is a partnership for economic development in the East Arkansas Delta. By coming together, they have expanded their capability to grow businesses and improve quality of life. The coalition represents eight counties with one ambition: creating opportunity. This approach is causing a rising tide of innovation that’s lifting all business boats. It is a collaborative environment built for the modern global economy. By joining forces and combining resources, they are moving the East Arkansas Delta forward.

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR CROSSROADS COALITION: 1790 N. Falls Blvd., Suite #2, Wynne, AR, 72396; Phone: 870.238.5300; Website:; email for executive director Heather Maxwell:

The Crossroads Coalition’s area has a combined labor force of over 100,000 with strong industry footholds in manufacturing, retail, health care, and agriculture. The East Arkansas Delta has much to offer industries such as aviation, distribution logistics, and food manufacturing. They are home to leading global companies such as Schneider National, Mueller Industries, and Boar’s Head.

As with the other sections of the Greater Delta Region, this substantial part of the region’s location along the Mississippi River – and the transportation capabilities that come with it – have made them a favorite for shipping and distribution companies. The region is well established in the world of agriculture, thanks to the rich soil in the area; the area is one of the world’s bread baskets with leading production including soybeans, cotton, rice, and sweet potatoes.

Heather Maxwell, executive director of the Crossroads Coalition, is based in Wynne and travels extensively across the eight-county area and the state. In speaking at the Clinton Library, she began by saying that the coalition is east Arkansas’ regional economic development partnership, which started informally about 10 years ago when business, community and civic leaders became very involved with then Sen. Blanche Lincoln and then Congressman Marion Berry and other elected leaders in planning on what could be done to compete in attracting jobs and industry in today’s global economic stage.

The Crossroads Coalition was incorporated in 2007 to promote broad-based development in east Arkansas in four working areas: education, community development, economic development and leadership development. These four basic areas are included in the strategic blueprint, but Ms. Maxwell emphasizes that the coalition works every day to implement the plan so it’s not just a strategic plan sitting on a shelf but there is a lot of “strategic doing.”

Maxwell says there are many challenges and opportunities in building a regional team, and while the Crossroads Coalition is itself an organization it is also a partnership of organizations including nonprofits, business leaders, community leaders that are finding exceptional opportunities for improvement and change in the eight counties that include some of the most impoverished areas in the Delta.

In building a regional team it is vital to build local capacity so that local leaders understand the process, the tools and resources needed to engage in international business recruitment as well as retention and expansion of existing jobs. Maxwell stressed that the coalition supports existing organizations that engage in best practices “that we can ‘beg, borrow and steal from’ to champion many other related initiatives that fit within our strategic plan.”

PREP program—Prospect Readiness Education Program: PREP is a great program in which the coalition’s partners are working with Arkansas Economic Development Commission to encourage local communities to get the training and expertise needed to compete on a global scale for jobs and industry.

Ms. Maxwell praised Mayor Larry Bryant of Forrest City for having recently led his city to become the first PREP-certified community in the area, saying “Kudos to Mayor Bryant for his role in bringing Forrest City through that PREP training program. It shows they’re ready to engage on the international stage for business and industry recruitment.”

Business Forward East Arkansas program—collaboration among Entergy, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and other partners: Another program that is a testament to leveraging assets and bringing many initiatives together is the Business Forward East Arkansas project, which began with brainstorming conversations along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be cool if…and then many initiatives started coming together.”

Entergy, Inc. (for those in the northern part of the region, Entergy is a very large public utility corporation that is a major player in the regional economy) transferred to the Coalition an expiring Synchronist database user license to allow the Crossroads Coalition to build an industry leading technology platform for business industry and expansion.

Then the Arkansas Economic Development Commission awarded a regional economic development partnership grant for marketing, which allowed for branding for the Business Forward project.

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) then leveraged those assets to enable the Crossroads Coalition to fully develop the program, which is the internal business development tool that the coalition will be using going forward in retention, expansion, cultivation and small business development all under one umbrella. The Business Forward program will bring all the special teams together who are working in the trenches every day, including the business, community development, economic development leaders, chambers of commerce, and colleges and universities.

Arkansas Delta Training and Education Consortium: The ADTEC consortium consists of five community colleges in the Crossroads Coalition’s area that provide them with a wealth of workforce training capability: The five community colleges are:

· Mid-South Community College, West Memphis

· Arkansas Northeastern College, Blytheville

· Arkansas State University at Newport

· East Arkansas Community College, Forrest City

· Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, Helena-West Helena

ADTEC Workforce Development Model: The award-winning ADTEC workforce development model is driven by continuous industry input and feedback. Program areas are identified that support emerging and demand industries that are key to the regional economy, such as advanced manufacturing and renewable energy technology. Industry input is obtained through mechanisms such as skills standards and competency surveys and facilitated DACUM (Developing A CurriculUM) processes.

Through these processes, industry identifies job titles, job competencies, technical and professional skills standards, equipment/tool standards and other relevant information that is necessary for the development of workforce talent in that specific industry. That information then becomes the basis for the design of curriculum, course guides, and equipment standards for the education/career pathway for that particular program.

During and after program development, industry continues to provide input and feedback through regularly scheduled Advisory Team meetings, review of program materials, involvement in revisions and updates regarding program/curriculum content, work-based learning collaboration, participation in training/re-training of existing workers, and involvement in other activities that support the program.

The ADTEC workforce development model includes a continuous trained worker pipeline. This includes three major resource pools for workforce talent development:

· Existing workers

· Unskilled and dislocated workers

· High school students

The Workforce Investment System and One-Stop Centers provide a pool of unskilled and dislocated workers, and ADTEC has memoranda of understanding in place with each of the three Workforce Investment Boards in eastern Arkansas to formalize that relationship.

Each of the ADTEC colleges operates a secondary technical center on its campus, which allows high school juniors and seniors to enroll in the college-level programs developed for industry and earn concurrent college and high school credit. After completing the two-year program, most of the high school students will have earned a college certificate of proficiency upon high school graduation.

Delta Young Professionals: Heather Maxwell recalls that in their travels around the region, the Crossroads Coalition partners would meet young people who acquired their educational accomplishments and then came back to the Delta to work in the communities where they grew up. There would be three or four here and three of four there in places across the area, and often they didn’t know each other.

The Crossroads Coalition formed the Delta Young Professionals as a service organization to collect and recruit energetic young leaders in the age range from 21 to 39 to give them a forum to develop their skills, bounce ideas off of each other and become the next generation of leaders to move our region forward.

Delta Young Professionals is a self-sustaining, member-based professional development and service program. The DYP is developing an ongoing mentoring program to model personal and civic responsibility for students, encourage positive life choices, and cultivate career and life readiness among students. Delta Young Professionals regularly holds professional development workshops and networking events in each of the Crossroads Coalition counties.

Thanks again to the Crossroads Coalition for all their great work in the Delta.—Delta Caucus board of directors (202) 360-6347