Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus has a consensus in a poor region that still has a long way to go

The annual conference of the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus in Little Rock developed a consensus for cooperation, bipartisanship and "maintaining a we-can-do-it attitude," writes Constance Alexander in the Murray Ledger and Times of southwestern Kentucky, part of the Delta Regional Authority's territory.

"Funding of $30 million is also crucial," Alexander writes. "Being proactive is essential, particularly in areas like health care and infrastructure. Housing needs and transportation also demand initiative, with sub-prime loans and the current economic downturn presenting problems of immediate concern."

For economic development, "Thinking outside the proverbial box and taking holistic approaches is advised," Alexander writes. Other strategies include "developing and promoting education as a process of lifelong learning, from pre-kindergarten to post-retirement [and] taking charge of change through innovation, creativity and technology. Moreover, the importance of broadband cannot be ignored, as entrepreneurship relies on access." The group also agreed to take steps toward "energy independence, including alternative fuels, and sustainable and renewable fuels."

Alexander reports, "Speakers and panelists included corporate executives and Washington, D.C., operatives, as well as elected officials, university administrators, community organizers and program officers from a range of non-profits. The common ground they share is the stark reality that the Mississippi Delta region has a poverty rate 55 per cent higher than the rest of the nation, a plight as dire and entrenched as that of Appalachia." The headline on her story is "Still a long way to go." (Read more)

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