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Annual Report 2019 | Connecting Communities

Line drawing of community

Reaching Out to Delta Communities

The Arkansas and Mississippi Delta region—an area flanking the Mississippi River—has faced decades of intergenerational poverty and a lack of resources to address this situation.

Group from the St. Louis Fed talk with two men near a stop sign.

Delta Communities Initiative
—By the Numbers

  • 4: years since launch
  • 32: regional forums held
  • 750: Delta leaders engaged

The St. Louis Fed’s Community Development team launched the Delta Communities initiative in 2016 in recognition of these circumstances and in response to the Bank’s Community Development Outlook Survey findings.

Under the initiative, the team has held regional forums to build awareness of potential tools and strategies for community and economic development.

The forums feature presentations from St. Louis Fed staff as well as regional and national representatives with experience in building and sustaining community and economic development efforts.

Regional forums focus on topics such as:

  • Understanding the credit environment for small-business development
  • The role of housing as an economic development driver
  • Finding financial resources for community and economic development

Other programs complement the success of the regional forums, including the Delta Philanthropy Forum and the Delta Capital Project.

Programs

  • Delta Communities Initiative: Conducting regional meetings on tools and strategies
  • Delta Philanthropy Forum: Bringing together philanthropists who make grants in the region
  • Delta Capital Project: Studying federal and philanthropic capital flows into 38 Delta counties

St. Louis Fed President Bullard Hears from Delta Main Street

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard visits the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta region as part of his regular tours around the District. Meeting with groups and local businesses throughout the District allows him to deepen his understanding of Main Street issues and the state of the regional economy.

Group of men observe a worker inspecting a table stacked with cotton.

In April 2019, Bullard (third from the right) watched a Staplcotn employee demonstrate how to check the staple length of cotton at the cotton marketing cooperative’s headquarters in Greenwood, Miss.

Jim Bullard and five executives talk while seated at a restaurant table.

In March 2017, Bullard (third from the right) and Douglas Scarboro, senior vice president and regional executive (second from the right), met with civic leaders from eastern Arkansas at Wilson Cafe in Wilson, a small Delta town in Arkansas undergoing a revival.

St. Louis Fed Advisers Bring a Delta Perspective

Tim Lampkin and J. Brice Fletcher have brought a Delta viewpoint to the St. Louis Fed. Hear from them and other St. Louis Fed advisers and board members in the Voices of the Fed video series.

Tim Lampkin grew up in Clarksdale, Miss., in the Delta region and now leads the nonprofit Higher Purpose Co. As CEO, he works with black residents across Mississippi to build community wealth.

Lampkin—a member of the Bank’s Community Development Advisory Council (CDAC)—said he didn’t realize his family was living in poverty because all of his needs were met. It wasn’t until he was in college that he started to understand the history of the Delta, particularly from an economic perspective.

“And a lot hasn’t necessarily changed,” Lampkin said. “Poverty levels here in Clarksdale and across the Delta are still very high.”

He said that serving on the CDAC offers a “huge perspective” on what’s happening in his region and solutions for tackling some of its biggest challenges.

J. Brice Fletcher served on the St. Louis Fed’s Memphis Branch board of directors from 2014 until January 2020.

His entire professional career has been at First National Bank of Eastern Arkansas in Forrest City, Ark. He is currently chairman of the bank.

As head of a small community bank, he brought to the St. Louis Fed the perspective of small, rural America—especially in the Delta, he said.

“There’s so many rural communities … all through the country, and I think they need a voice,” Fletcher said during his term on the Memphis board. “It’s rewarding to be able to take their stories to the Fed.”

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