Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a Federal-State partnership whose mission it is to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Mississippi River Delta Region. The Delta Regional Authority serves 252 counties and parishes in parts of eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Led by a Federal Co-Chairman appointed by the President and the governors of the eight states, the DRA fosters partnerships throughout the region as it works to improve the Delta economy. DRA funds can be used to leverage other federal and state programs.
Under federal law, at least 75 percent of DRA funds must be invested in economically distressed counties and parishes. Half of DRA funds are awarded for transportation and basic infrastructure improvements.
The 1990 report of the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission spurred efforts to direct federal economic assistance toward the Lower Mississippi River Valley region. The region, as defined in the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Act of 1988, consisted of 219 counties in Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois and was the poorest in the United States, with a poverty rate of 22% compared to a national rate of 12%. In 1998, President Bill Clinton, an Arkansas native, proposed channeling $26 million in federal aid to the region through the Appalachian Regional Commission, but Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice opposed the plan, fearing it would divert aid from the Appalachian Region, including several counties in northern Mississippi. Instead, Congress funneled the allocation through the Department of Agriculture, but the Department said it was unable to comply with Congress' intent without more specific direction.
In 1999, Arkansas Democrats Senator Blanche Lincoln and Representative Marion Berry introduced the Delta Regional Authority Act of 1999 to create the Delta Regional Authority to administer funds allocated to the region. The legislation was co-sponsored by Arkansas Republican Senator Tim Hutchinson, Tennessee Republican Senator Bill Frist, and Tennessee Democratic Representative Harold Ford, Jr.. Clinton announced in December 1999 that he would include $30 million in funding for the Authority in his next budget proposal. Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran become the leading voice against the legislation, opining that the money should be channeled to the Delta Region through existing agencies such as colleges and universities.
In 2000, Congress established the Delta Regional Authority to enhance economic development and improve the quality of life for the residents of the Lower Mississippi River Delta region.
The Delta Regional Authority is a regional economic development agency serving 252 counties and parishes in the following eight states:
The DRA is led by two presidential appointees, Federal Co-Chairman (FCC) and Alternate Federal Co-Chairman (AFCC), along with a State Co-Chairman and the governor of each participating state, the Delta Regional Authority is designed to remedy severe and chronic economic distress by stimulating economic development and fostering partnerships that will have a positive impact on the region’s economy.
The Delta Regional Authority helps economically distressed communities to leverage other federal and state programs in the four Congressionally mandated priority funding categories:
- Basic public infrastructure in distressed counties and isolated areas of distress;
- Transportation infrastructure for the purpose of facilitating economic development in the region;
- Business development, with emphasis on entrepreneurship; and
- Workforce development or employment-related education, with emphasis on use of existing public educational institutions located in the region.
Since the inception of the DRA Federal Funding Program, known as the States' Economic Development Assistance Program since 2010, the following projected outcomes have been documented:
- 11,452 jobs have been created;
- 14,766 jobs have been retained;
- 64,831 families have received improved water and sewer; and
- 7,202 individuals have been trained for jobs.
- DRA has contributed $138,358,642 to 934 projects in its eight-state region towards a total investment in those projects of $890,612,847.
- DRA total project investment includes an additional leverage of $752,254,205 in other federal, state and local funds, which is a ratio of 5.44 to 1.
- In addition, private funds invested in these projects total $2,208,673,037, which is a ratio of 15.96 to 1, private dollars to DRA dollars.
- Total leveraged investment of $2,960,927,242 including federal, state, local and private funds produced a ratio of 21.4 to 1.
At the local level, the Delta Regional Authority coordinates efforts with a combination of agencies. Assisting the Delta Regional Authority are local development districts (“LDDs”), regional entities with a proven track record of helping municipalities, counties and parishes improve basic infrastructure and stimulate growth.
DRA partners with USDA's Rural Development (RDA) Program. Through their network of state and local offices, the RDA assists the Delta Regional Authority with the Rural Community Advancement Program (RCAP) program. DRA also partnered with the Economic Development Association (EDA) by conducting community evaluations related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Additionally, the Delta Regional Authority works with each member state’s Department of Economic Development, local development districts, Departments of Transportation, governor’s offices, Department of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, congressional offices and city and county government.
DRA Programs and Initiatives
The Delta Regional Authority is involved in numerous efforts to improve the lives of the people it serves. The following programs are currently under operation throughout the Authority's region:
- DRA Growing a Health Workforce in the Delta Initiative (HDI);
- Delta Doctors Program (DDP);
- BF Smith Foundation – Adult Literacy/Workforce Training (BFS);
- Information Technology/iDelta (IT);
- Delta Development Highway System (DDHS);
- Multi-Modal Transportation (MMT);
- Delta Green Jobs Initiative (DGJI);
- Innovative Readiness Training Program (IRT);
- Local Development District (LDD);
- Entrepreneurship Training (SIU);
- Delta Leadership Institute (DLI).
DRA Service Area
Barbour County, Alabama; Bullock County, Alabama; Butler County, Alabama; Choctaw County, Alabama; Clarke County, Alabama; Conecuh County, Alabama; Dallas County, Alabama; Escambia County, Alabama; Greene County, Alabama; Hale County, Alabama; Lowndes County, Alabama; Macon County, Alabama; Marengo County, Alabama; Monroe County, Alabama; Perry County, Alabama; Pickens County, Alabama; Russell County, Alabama; Sumter County, Alabama; Washington County, Alabama; Wilcox County, Alabama
Arkansas County, Arkansas; Ashley County, Arkansas; Baxter County, Arkansas; Bradley County, Arkansas; Calhoun County, Arkansas; Chicot County, Arkansas; Clay County, Arkansas; Cleveland County, Arkansas; Craighead County, Arkansas; Crittenden County, Arkansas; Cross County, Arkansas; Dallas County, Arkansas; Desha County, Arkansas; Drew County, Arkansas; Fulton County, Arkansas; Grant County, Arkansas; Greene County, Arkansas; Independence County, Arkansas; Izard County, Arkansas; Jackson County, Arkansas; Jefferson County, Arkansas; Lawrence County, Arkansas; Lee County, Arkansas; Lincoln County, Arkansas; Lonoke County, Arkansas; Marion County, Arkansas; Mississippi County, Arkansas; Monroe County, Arkansas; Ouachita County, Arkansas; Phillips County, Arkansas; Poinsett County, Arkansas; Prairie County, Arkansas; Pulaski County, Arkansas; Randolph County, Arkansas; Searcy County, Arkansas; Sharp County, Arkansas; Stone County, Arkansas; St. Francis County, Arkansas; Union County, Arkansas; Van Buren County, Arkansas; White County, Arkansas; Woodruff County, Arkansas
Alexander County, Illinois; Franklin County, Illinois; Gallatin County, Illinois; Hamilton County, Illinois; Hardin County, Illinois; Jackson County, Illinois; Johnson County, Illinois; Massac County, Illinois; Perry County, Illinois; Pope County, Illinois; Pulaski County, Illinois; Randolph County, Illinois; Saline County, Illinois; Union County, Illinois; White County, Illinois; Williamson County, Illinois
Ballard County, Kentucky; Caldwell County, Kentucky; Christian County, Kentucky; Calloway County, Kentucky; Carlisle County, Kentucky; Crittenden County, Kentucky; Fulton County, Kentucky; Graves County, Kentucky; Henderson County, Kentucky; Hickman County, Kentucky; Hopkins County, Kentucky; Livingston County, Kentucky; Lyon County, Kentucky; Marshall County, Kentucky; McCracken County, Kentucky; McLean County, Kentucky; Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; Todd County, Kentucky; Trigg County, Kentucky; Union County, Kentucky; Webster County, Kentucky
Acadia Parish, Louisiana; Allen Parish, Louisiana; Ascension Parish, Louisiana; Assumption Parish, Louisiana; Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana; Beauregard Parish, Louisiana; Bienville Parish, Louisiana; Caldwell Parish, Louisiana; Cameron Parish, Louisiana; Claiborne Parish, Louisiana; Concordia Parish, Louisiana; Catahoula Parish, Louisiana; DeSoto Parish, Louisiana; East Carroll Parish, Louisiana; East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana; Evangeline Parish, Louisiana; Franklin Parish, Louisiana; Iberia Parish, Louisiana; Iberville Parish, Louisiana; East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana; Grant Parish, Louisiana; Lafourche Parish, Louisiana; Jackson Parish, Louisiana; Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana; Livingston Parish, Louisiana; Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; Lincoln Parish, Louisiana; Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana; La Salle Parish, Louisiana; Morehouse Parish, Louisiana; Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana; Madison Parish, Louisiana; Ouachita Parish, Louisiana; Richland Parish, Louisiana; Orleans Parish, Louisiana; Rapides Parish, Louisiana; St. Helena Parish, Louisiana; Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana; Red River Parish, Louisiana;St. Landry Parish, Louisiana; St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana; St. Charles Parish, Louisiana; St. Mary Parish, Louisiana; St. James Parish, Louisiana; St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana; St. Martin Parish, Louisiana; Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana; Tensas Parish, Louisiana; Union Parish, Louisiana; Vermillion Parish, Louisiana; Washington Parish, Louisiana; Webster Parish, Louisiana; West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana; West Carroll Parish, Louisiana; West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana; Winn Parish, Louisiana
Adams County, Mississippi; Amite County, Mississippi; Attala County, Mississippi; Benton County, Mississippi; Bolivar County, Mississippi; Carroll County, Mississippi; Claiborne County, Mississippi; Coahoma County, Mississippi; Copiah County, Mississippi; Covington County, Mississippi; DeSoto County, Mississippi; Franklin County, Mississippi; Grenada County, Mississippi; Hinds County, Mississippi; Holmes County, Mississippi; Humphreys County, Mississippi; Issaquena County, Mississippi; Jasper County, Mississippi; Jefferson County, Mississippi; Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi; Lawrence County, Mississippi; Leflore County, Mississippi; Lafayette County, Mississippi; Madison County, Mississippi; Marion County, Mississippi; Lincoln County, Mississippi; Montgomery County, Mississippi; Panola County, Mississippi; Marshall County, Mississippi; Quitman County, Mississippi; Rankin County, Mississippi; Pike County, Mississippi; Smith County, Mississippi; Sunflower County, Mississippi; Sharkey County, Mississippi; Simpson County, Mississippi; Tippah County, Mississippi; Tallahatchie County, Mississippi; Tate County, Mississippi; Tunica County, Mississippi; Union County, Mississippi; Walthall County, Mississippi; Warren County, Mississippi; Washington County, Mississippi; Wilkinson County, Mississippi; Yalobusha County, Mississippi; Yazoo County, Mississippi
Bollinger County, Missouri; Butler County, Missouri; Cape Girardeau County, Missouri; Carter County, Missouri; Crawford County, Missouri; Dent County, Missouri; Douglas County, Missouri; Dunklin County, Missouri; Howell County, Missouri; Iron County, Missouri; Madison County, Missouri; Mississippi County, Missouri; New Madrid County, Missouri; Ozark County, Missouri; Pemiscot County, Missouri; Oregon County, Missouri; Phelps County, Missouri; Perry County, Missouri; Reynolds County, Missouri; Ripley County, Missouri; Scott County, Missouri; Shannon County, Missouri; Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri; St. Francois County, Missouri; Stoddard County, Missouri; Texas County, Missouri; Washington County, Missouri; Wayne County, Missouri; Wright County, Missouri
Benton County, Tennessee; Carroll County, Tennessee; Chester County, Tennessee; Crockett County, Tennessee; Decatur County, Tennessee; Dyer County, Tennessee; Fayette County, Tennessee; Gibson County, Tennessee; Hardeman County, Tennessee; Hardin County, Tennessee; Haywood County, Tennessee; Henderson County, Tennessee; Henry County, Tennessee; Lake County, Tennessee; Lauderdale County, Tennessee; Madison County, Tennessee; McNairy County, Tennessee; Obion County, Tennessee; Shelby County, Tennessee; Tipton County, Tennessee; Weakley County, Tennessee
- Brosnan, James W. (September 22, 1999). "Area Lawmakers to Unveil Plan for Aid to Delta's Poor". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, Tennessee. p. A13.
- "Clinton Endorses Lincoln, Berry Bill to Improve the Delta". Federal Document Clearing House. December 10, 1999. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- HR.2911 and S.1622, neither of which became law.
- "Musgrove to Make Pitch for Delta Authority in Washington Session". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, Tennessee. The Associated Press. April 12, 2000. p. DS6.