Economic summit scheduled

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

RIDGECREST, La. &045; Ferriday’s Emerson Slain hopes that what started out to be a private meeting will instead become a place for people from across the Miss-Lou to exchange ideas about improving their community.

The Community Economic Development Summit, which Slain has organized, will bring experts from across Louisiana to form partnerships and talk about ways to help erase poverty in the Louisiana Delta.

The event, sponsored by the Delta Regional Community Development Corporation Inc., will take place Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon at St. James Baptist Church in Ridgecrest.

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&uot;The idea is that I’ve lived in my house for 27 years, and I’ve seen poverty increase, unemployment increase and problems in our educational system,&uot; Slain said. &uot;It’s time to do something about it.&uot;

The idea for the summit started out as a small meeting at which the board of the Delta Regional Community Development Corporation could meet with representatives from government and academia. But it couldn’t stop with just that, Slain said.

&uot;We’ve invited all people to come because we got such a huge response,&uot; Slain said. &uot;We’ve reached out to everyone to get involved, even across the water (in Mississippi).&uot;

Professors from five area universities and government officials, including representatives from Governor Kathleen Blanco and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, and members of local social and religious organizations will speak about a wide array of topics like the criminal justice system, faith-based iniatives, education, job training, health care, housing, child care and recreation.

Slain said that members of the LSU staff have agreed to help build a business plan and a strategic plan to help deal with poverty in the delta region.

Residents of Concordia and Catahoula parishes and Adams County are invited to come to the event. Natchez Mayor Phillip West has said he will come if travel plans can be arranged around the event, Slain said.