Regional leaders flocking to Natchez for meeting

Published 12:10 am Saturday, February 23, 2013

NATCHEZ — Next week, Natchez will be on display for leaders from across the region for its efforts to address economic development concerns in recent years.

The Delta Leadership Institute will be meeting in Natchez Monday through Wednesday at the Natchez Convention Center and at various sites around Adams County. The institute was founded in 2005 with the intent of addressing issues of poverty, unemployment, education and economic development. The institute represents areas where communities do not commonly have access to resources or infrastructure to address negative social and economic trends.

Approximately 65 institute attendees from a 252-county and parish region will be in town for the event.

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Adams County Supervisor Angela Hutchins has been a member of DLI since October. Members attend meetings in various cities, where they learn about how those areas are addressing economic concerns, as well as issues such as charter schools, she said.

The institute has previously traveled to St. Louis and New Orleans, and will later visit Memphis, Washington, D.C., and Little Rock, Ark. Hutchins said Natchez was chosen at her suggestion.

“We had a site visit that was left open, and I said, ‘Why don’t we try Natchez? We have some good things on the horizon and some good economic things that have already been put in place,” Hutchins said.

Institute members will tour the Natchez-Adams County Port with representatives from the port authority and Natchez Inc. to discuss local economic development efforts, Hutchins said, and will visit downtown Natchez to better understand efforts under way to attract more entrepreneurs to the area.

When the group isn’t making site visits, members will be attending educational sessions, where they will discuss such issues as how to understand local demographic trends and poverty, Hutchins said.

“In one of the sessions, we will act out as if we were living in poverty to see how it feels and to see how it affects the community,” she said.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell commended Hutchins for recruiting the institute to the area.

“This is a big deal,” Grennell said. “These people meet in cities all across the country, and she was able to convince them to come here.”