Southeast Tourism Society Statement on Federal Funding for the Delta Regional Authority

Southeast Tourism Society Statement onFederal Funding for theDelta Regional AuthorityThe Delta Regional Authority (DRA) utilizes tourism asan unparalleled platform for showcasing the unique culture and heritage of the 252 counties and parishes,in eight states,while building local economies. Leveraging the rich cultural and creative resources of the Mississippi River communities of local artisans, writers, filmmakers, musicians, business owners, and entrepreneurs, DRA’s programs area significant contributor to strengthening the role of tourism as a key economic driver throughout the Delta region.

Of the eight Delta states, six are in the Southeast: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.Recognizing tourism provides some of the best opportunities for economic development in rural communities;DRA invests resources in the infrastructure and small businesses that support visitation to the region and works with communities, businesses and attractions to collectively promote the Delta as a great place to visit. Key tourism initiatives include, the Mississippi River Geotourism Project with National Geographic, National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,and Bridging the Blues, a cultural collaboration between Arkansas, Memphis, and Mississippi. DRA’s tourism initiatives are designed to provide meaningful growth across the region, especially in smaller communities.

With the goal of improving the regional economic opportunity in the most economically distressed area of the country by helping to create jobs, build communities, and improve the lives of the 10 million people who reside in the Delta region, DR Awas established by an act of Congress in 2000.Lead by the Delta Regional Authority Board –comprised of the Federal Co-Chairman, appointed by the President and the governors of the eight states –the DRA fosters local and regional partnerships that address economicand social challenges and drives the long-term strength of the Delta economy and the quality of life for its residents.With an impressiveleverage ratio of 20.2 to 1,the DRA has leveraged its $163 million in strategic investments to attract $3.3 billion in public and private investments into projects over 14 budget allocations. These investments have touched nearly every county and parish in the Delta.But much work remains to ensure that the economic gains are widespread and economic opportunities are fully leveraged. Southeast Tourism Society calls on Congress and the President to fully fund this critical federal partnership in recognition of the vital role DRA plays in job creation, economic growth, and strengthening local communities.Information on DRA’s impact by state can be found here.