Officials with the Delta Regional Authority are asking for feedback on economic development throughout much of Mississippi. Authority officials hope to use the information to guide the organization over the next five years.
Sitting in a small, refurnished train depot in Collins, representatives with the DRA met with community leaders from across Mississippi, yesterday.
As part of a 10-city listening tour, DRA officials are trying to find out what economic development problems exist in the 50 counties under the agency's purview.
Ted Abernathy is a private contractor running the meetings. He says people are voicing a lot of different concerns.
"We're hearing a strong commitment to workforce," Abernathy says, "that's probably the over-riding theme. We have workforce skills issues across the region that don't match the jobs that are here. Something that DRA has been involved with a lot is infrastructure. We're hearing a lot of that as a need to continue to help support small towns where they don't have many options for infrastructure today."
The Authority’s ultimate goal is to improve life across the entire Mississippi River Delta Region by strengthening job creation and entrepreneurial efforts. Through a listening tour, officials believe they will be able to pinpoint what programs will have the best outcomes for individuals over the next five years.
Milton Chambliss with the Claiborne County Economic Development District says rural counties need help with developing digital infrastructure.
"In assisting our entrepreneurs, developing a sort of universal website portal where local communities and local counties could load their local information in there whether it's for tourism purposes or business recruitment purposes or to help sell local products," Chambliss says.
Since 2000, the DRA has invested roughly 17 million dollars in economic development throughout Mississippi.