The Delta Regional Authority budget won increases from the key Senate appropriations committee of $20 million for the Delta transportation program, $12 million for the basic DRA budget, and $3 million through USDA Rural Development to the DRA area, which includes Lincoln Parish and 44 other parishes in Louisiana.
“This Senate action is an important step forward in the vital effort to increase economic development funding for the Louisiana Delta,” said Dr. Obadiah Simmons, Louisiana coordinator for the Delta Grassroots Caucus.
The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus commended Rep. Rodney Alexander, Sen. Mary Landrieu, Sen. David Vitter and the entire Louisiana Congressional delegation for progress in expanding the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) budget for economic development in Lincoln Parish and other parishes in Louisiana, according to Dr. Simmons, who is associate dean/director of Continuing Education & Special Programs at Grambling, as well as Louisiana coordinator for the Mid-South Delta Leaders program.
“The Grassroots Caucus is fortunate to have Dr. Obadiah Simmons as one of our key regional leaders. He has the vision to see the importance of the whole region working together for a common goal, and he is always there for us in activities both throughout the region and in our advocacy and educational activities in Congress and before the Bush administration,” said Lee Powell, Delta Caucus director.
“We hope the House follows the Senate’s lead in increasing the DRA funding in the final version of this legislation,” Powell said.
“The Grassroots Caucus commends progress in increasing funding for economic development in Louisiana and the rest of the region, as exemplified by the Senate appropriations committee approval of $12 million for the DRA in the basic regional economic development commissions appropriations bill, $20 million for the Delta transportation program for transportation improvements in the region, and $2.5 million in additional funding to the Delta Regional Authority through USDA Rural Development,” said Dr. Simmons.
The DRA has done a good job with limited funding in its four short years in existence, investing approximately $40 million through its federal grant program. “We need to highlight their success in using the relatively small seed money in the DRA grant program to leverage much larger amounts of funding,” Powell said, pointing out that the DRA seed money “leveraged an additional $356.3 million in private sector funding and another $162.4 million in other federal funds for a total investment of $559.5 million for economic development projects to create or retain jobs, improve infrastructure and provide job training.”