In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a strong blueprint for an American economy that is built to last. Right now, the Delta region is poised to build from that blueprint – focusing on creating good-paying jobs, building communities and improving lives. As President Obama said, “If the playing field is level – America will always win.” For the Delta, this begins with prioritizing the relationship between education and economic development and giving our communities the tools and resources they need to be on a level playing field with the rest of America as well as the World. The Delta Leadership Executive Academy is doing just that: bringing together folks from across the region that are working tirelessly make Delta communities competitive, and we have never been closer than we are right now to act as the catalyst that will help America win.
Just last week, leaders from across the Delta Region met with White House officials for a morning of conversations on issues facing the Delta Region including creating good-paying jobs, small business and entrepreneurship and supporting a Delta built to last. Hosted by the Delta Regional Authority and the White House Office of Public Engagement, our leadership group was in DC for the fourth session in their year-long Executive Academy.
The group engaged with White House leadership including Jon Carson (Office of Public Engagement), Doug McKalip (Rural Affairs) and Ari Matusiak (White House Business Council). Thursday’s conversation is the final word of a week-long summit that included visits with Deputy Undersecretary Doug O’Brien (USDA Rural Development) and Assistant Secretary John Fernandez (Economic Development Administration) in his last official event before leaving his post as Assistant Secretary. Academy participants also met with their respective Congressional Delegations.
Developing great leadership in our communities is the key to economic growth in the Delta region. It was an early priority for me to bring the members of this class to Washington, DC to see our government at work. This network of leaders focuses on economic growth and finding more ways to create good-paying jobs for the people of the Delta region. One cog in that wheel is a better understanding of the federal process.
Seven years ago, the Authority’s Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) was designed with the intention of creating a corps of local leadership who gain a better regional and national perspective through the Executive Academy. What has resulted is a network, 200 members strong and continuing to grow, of Deltans that prioritize creating good-paying jobs, building strong communities and improving the lives of people in the Delta and across the nation. The Delta Leadership Institute curriculum is designed to empower and equip leaders across the region with new skills and tools that they can implement in their communities. Each of the eight Governors and I nominate five participants annually for the program. Members of the Executive Academy include: Mayors, Local Elected Officials, Economic Developers, USDA State Directors, Chamber Directors, Foundation & Non-Profit Leadership, Local Development Districts, and many more from Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
Chris Masingill is Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority