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Lawmakers urged to maintain DRA

Last week in Washington, D.C., with 65 leaders from around Delta Regional gathered in the nation’s capital to urge our Senators and Representatives to actively support maintaining level funding for DRA. The President’s FY 2014 budget requests $11.3 million for the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), a $230,816 increase from the fiscal year 2013. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, the federal-state regional authority is authorized at $30 million annual.

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a unique federal-state partnership focused on improving the community and economic development conditions in the most distressed areas of the delta region. The authority serves 10 million people who resides in the 252 Delta Counties and Parishes of the eight-state region. (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee). The board of the DRA is comprised of the region’s governors and a federal co-chairman, who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate and an alternate federal co-chairman who is appointed by the president. DRA works closely with the local development districts (LDDs) who are the grassroots participation at the local level.

Since its creation the DRA has worked to create jobs, build communities and improve lives. DRA has helped bring in more than $1.7 billion to better develop communities in the Delta. The private investment has been leveraged with only $108 million (DRA’s appropriations), a leverage ratio of 16.2 to 1. Overall, DRA’s SEDAP has funded 718 projects and is helping to bring a total of $2.5 billion (a leverage ratio of more than 22 to 1) into its region.

There are investment cycles and DRA’s SEDAP has produced some remarkable outcomes: (1) Jobs created or retained — 16,829 actual, 23, 292 projected, (2) Families that received new water and or sewer — 25,497 actual, 35,236 projected, (3) Individuals trained for jobs — 3,745 actual, 11,750 projected.

Also during the Delta Leadership Institute Conference, participating leaders heard from federal agencies speakers on issues important to counties and communities, including Delta Grassroots Caucus Lee Powell and Wilson Golden, deputy assistant secretary for regional affairs, EDA Thomas Guevara, deputy assistant secretary for employment and training, Department of Labor Gerri Fiala, acting administrator, rural business-cooperative service, USDA Lillian Salerno, chief of staff, rural housing services, USDA Dominique McCoy, Department of Justice Kevin Jenkins.

In addition to urging our Senators and Representatives to maintaining funding for DRA, participating Delta Leadership Institute leaders visited the Eisenhower Office Building to meet Senior Policy Advisor for Rural Affairs Doug McKalip and Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement Ari Matusiak.

 

Angela Hutchins is the Adams County supervisor representing District 3.