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.

Nov. 7-8 Agenda for Delta Regional Conference--Infrastructure, Education, Regional Collaboration

Posted on October 29, 2019 at 01:16 PM

Below is the latest draft of the agenda for the Nov. 7-8, 2019 Greater Delta Region Conference in Little Rock. There may be a few changes if speakers have unexpected adjustments to their schedules, but this conveys the basic structure of the program.

SCHEDULE: The opening session is Thursday evening, Nov. 7 from 4:45 p.m. to a little after 7 p.m. at the Arkansas Capitol Rotunda.

(Note: There is an informal, optional socializing/networking dinner on your own at the group hotel restaurant, Holiday Inn Presidential Camp David restaurant, right after the opening session ends a little after 7 p.m.)

The Friday Nov. 8 morning and lunch session is from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Robinson Center Ballroom overlooking the Arkansas River.

KEY ISSUES: Transportation, housing, broadband, levee improvements and other flood control infrastructure; education; health issues, and Delta heritage tourism. Civil rights/diversity is always important for our group.

America is lagging far behind in infrastructure improvements: We would like to focus on information regarding the need for improvements in infrastructure. The Budget Committee in the US House recently reported the following alarming facts:

· As a share of the overall economy, U.S. infrastructure spending is lower than it has been at any time since 1956;

· Current infrastructure gaps are anticipated to cost the United States $3.9 trillion in [gross domestic product] and 2.5 million jobs by 2025 due to lost productivity.

· We need a combination of federal, state and local levels to address this problem. As R. Richard Geddes, a Cornell University professor and director of the Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy was recently quoted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “The main challenge the United States faces today is inadequate funding of infrastructure, which refers to the underlying dollars needing to pay for it. Declining revenue from the federal gas and diesel tax is devolving responsibility for funding to state and local governments by default.”

· Since 2010, China has spent roughly 8% of its GDP on infrastructure.

· European countries over that period, on average, dedicate roughly 5% of their GDP to infrastructure.

· In the U.S., the figure is roughly 2.4% of its GDP since 2010. This means that China has invested over three times as much on infrastructure since 2010 than the US, and Europe has spent twice as much on infrastructure as America has.

We must reverse this trend in a bipartisan way at federal, state and local levels. We plan to provide extensive information about key infrastructure issues at the conference.


  1. Registration
  2. Formation of Delta/Little Rock Partnership for Progress
  3. Draft of Agenda


You register by paying the registration fees.

Registration fees are $100 for those who have not paid their annual dues and $75 for those who have paid their dues.

There are group discounts for those who are organizing larger numbers of people to attend, down to $40 for four people and $25 for larger groups.

The fastest and easiest way to register is to go on the website at and go to the PayPal link that says “Donate.” This accepts all cards and makes a record of the transaction.

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to”:

Delta Caucus 5030 Purslane Place Waldorf, Maryland 20601


We will be announcing the formation of the “Delta/Little Rock Area Partnership for Progress” to deepen the longstanding collaboration between central Arkansas and the adjacent east Arkansas Delta on issues like the Arkansas Works program, transportation improvements from Little Rock to northeast, east and southeast, levee improvements for the Arkansas, White, Mississippi and other river systems, Opportunity Zones across the region and related issues.

We all know that Little Rock is urban and the Delta heartland is mostly small towns and rural areas, and most of Little Rock is relatively more affluent than most of the Delta. But there are diverse, economically distressed regions in Little Rock such as Sen. Joyce Elliott’s district that have a lot in common with the Delta. It makes no sense to say that once we get three feet inside the Pulaski County line our region and our collaboration should suddenly stop.

Supporters of the nonpartisan, informational Delta/Little Rock Area Partnership thus far include:

–Sen. Joyce Elliott, Little Rock;

–Rep. Andrew Collins, Little Rock;

–Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp., advocate for the Interstate 57 project between Little Rock and Sikeston, Missouri–one of the clearcut examples where Little Rock/Delta collaboration obviously makes a lot of sense;

–Rep. Reginald Murdock, Marianna;

–Rep. Monte Hodges, Blytheville;

–Rep. Chris Richey, Helena;

–Mayor Kevin Smith, Helena;

–Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, Des Arc;

–Professor Tracey McElwee, Chair, Dept. of Social Work, Philander Smith College;

–Kay Goss, former Associate Director of FEMA and nationally recognized expert on flooding and other disaster issues;

–Mayor Shirley Washington, Pine Bluff;

–Lee Powell, Delta Caucus Director;

–Former State Sen. Charlie Cole Chaffin.


Greater Delta Region Conference, Nov. 7-8, 2019 Little Rock, Arkansas “Infrastructure, Education and Regional Collaboration”

Opening Session, Thursday evening Nov. 7, 4:45 p.m. –7:15 p.m., Arkansas Capitol Rotunda

Information Display Tables

National Cold War Museum, Blytheville, Arkansas

Southern Illinois Delta Research of Dr. Peggy Bradford, Shawnee Community College

Sultana Steamboat Disaster Museum, Marion, Arkansas

Shawnee Community College research project, southern Illinois Delta

4:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.—Greeting and networking for Delta Caucus colleagues

“Education, Diversity and the Delta/Little Rock Partnership”

5:05 p.m. to 5:12 Introduction: Lee Powell, Caucus Director: formation of the Delta/Little Rock Partnership for Progress to deepen advocacy and collaboration between central Arkansas and the east Arkansas Delta

5:12 to 5:17 p.m.—Millie Atkins, Delta Caucus board member, Co-Chair, National Economic Equality Caucus, Community Leader in Monroe, Louisiana—on the opportunities opened by Historically Black Colleges and Universities

5:17 p.m. to 5:25 p.m.—Alan Gumbel, Interim Executive Director, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, on education and workforce development in the region; Memphis, Tennessee

5:25 p.m. to 5:32 p.m.—Loretta Alexander, Health Care Policy Director, Executive Director, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, update on the Arkansas Works health insurance program

5:32 P.M. TO 5:37 P.M.—Rep. Monte Hodges, Blytheville, Arkansas—follow-up comments on the Arkansas Works program from the standpoint of a Delta legislator who has been a strong supporter of the program

5:37 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., Lance Whitney, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, SNAP Outreach Director, update on the SNAP program, including Disaster-SNAP funding for victims of flooding

5:45 p.m. to 5:55 p.m., Professor Tracey McElwee, Chair, Department of Social Work, Philander Smith College

5:55 to 6:02 p.m.—Jeramie Alexander, Philander Smith College student majoring in Social Work, the 2019 Carol Willis Scholar for the annual Delta conference in commemoration of the legacy of the late, great Carol Willis in working for positive social, political and economic change

6:02 p.m. to 6:12 p.m.—Professor Charity Smith, Philander Smith College, on the educational mission of Philander Smith for Arkansas; introduced by Randy Henderson, Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas

6:12 to 6:22 p.m.—Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock—education, diversity and collaboration between central Arkansas and the adjacent east Arkansas Delta

6:22 p.m. to 6:29 p.m.—Rep. Andrew Collins—hunger and poverty comments, and flooding damage for his constituents from this year’s Arkansas River flooding

6:29 p.m. to 6:35 p.m.—Glendscene Williams, Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi, on Delta State’s educational role in business and entrepreneurial research

6:35 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.—Peggy Bradford, J.D., Ed.D., former President of Shawnee Community College in the southern Illinois Delta, on her research on educational issues for the diverse, economically distressed southern Illinois area

7:15 p.m.—Informal, optional socializing/networking dinner at the group hotel restaurant, Holiday Inn Presidential Camp David restaurant. This is strictly optional but many people find it useful for making contacts and sharing information.

Friday, Nov. 8 Session, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Robinson Center Ballroom Overlooking the Arkansas River

“Transportation, Housing, Levee Improvements/Flood Control, and Tourism-Related Infrastructure”

8:30 a.m. to 9:10 a.m.–Delta Heritage Tourism speakers

Louis Intres, Director, Sultana Steamboat Disaster Museum, Marion, Arkansas

Elizabeth Smith, Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce, on the proposed National Cold War Museum in Blytheville, Arkansas

Betty Dobson, Executive Director, Upper Town Heritage Foundation, Paducah, Kentucky

9:10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.–Speakers on Housing, Levee Improvements and Disaster Relief, Transportation and other Infrastructure Issues”

Kay Goss, Moderator and Speaker; Associate Director of FEMA for President Bill Clinton, nationally recognized expert on disaster relief issues

9:10 a.m. 9:20 a.m.–Professor Kevin Fitzpatrick, J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, on homelessness and related housing issues

9:20 a.m. to 9:28 a.m.–Desha County Judge Richard Tindall–on flooding in his area this year

9:28 to 9:38 a.m.–Mayor Shirley Washington of Pine Bluff on flooding issues and infrastructure issues in her city

9:38 a.m. to 9:46 a.m.—Harvey Joe Sanner, President, American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, Des Arc, on the need for levee improvements and the impact of flooding on agriculture in the Delta

9:46 to 9:56 a.m. a.m.–Sen. David Wallace, Leachville, on disaster relief issues

10 a.m. to 10:10 a.m.—Lt. Governor Tim Griffin of the State of Arkansas, on infrastructure iniitiatives in transportation, broadband access and levee improvements, introduced by Sen. David Wallace

10;10 a.m. to 10:18 a.m.—Theresa Jones, representing the City of Clarksdale, Mississippi

10:18 to 10:30–Kay Goss presentation on levee improvements and disaster relief

10:30 a.n. to 11:50 a.m.–Regional Infrastructure Issues:

10:30 to 10:38 a.m.–Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp., former Alternate Federal Co-Chair, Delta Regional Authority

10:38 a.m. to 10: 50 a.m.–Leslie Durham, Louisiana Designee for the Delta Regional Authority for Gov. John Bel Edwards, St. Joseph, Louisiana

State Legislators Speaking on transportation and other infrastructure issues

10:50 a.m.–Rep. Chris Richey, Helena

11 a.m.–Rep. Reginald Murdock, Marianna

11:10 a.m.–Sen. Keith Ingram, West Memphis

Discussion and Question and Answer

11:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m..–Mireya Reith, Executive Director, Arkansas United, on housing issues for immigrants and related issues

Discussion and question and answer

LUNCHEON–11:30 a.m. to 1: p.m.

Rex Nelson, Senior Editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and former Alternate Federal Co-Chairman, Delta Regional Authority

INVITED–Congressman French Hill, Second District of Arkansas

Victor Jones, Southern Poverty Law Center’s Senior Supervising Attorney, New Orleans, Louisiana

Annette Dove, Executive Director, TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Sponsors for the Greater Delta Region Conference, Nov. 7-8, 2019, Little Rock, Arkansas


Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas, Blytheville, Arkansas


J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation

Municipal League of the State of Illinois


American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas, Des Arc, Arkansas

HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation / Hope Credit Union)

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas

Phillips County AR Delta Partners

Delta Caucus Partners

Last but not least, we would like to thank the hundreds of grassroots partners across the Greater Delta Region and the Washington, DC area for their many contributions of registration fees, annual membership dues, and other voluntary contributions in the amounts of $150, $125, $100, $75, $50, and $25.

 As a grassroots private sector coalition, we need to have a diversified financial base with large numbers of medium-sized and smaller contributions, and we could not do our work without these numerous contributions.