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Delta Bridge Project moves to next stage
The Delta Bridge Project moves into its next phase of strategy sessions Jan. 19 when Coahoma County citizens meet to delve into the finer points of the five goals set forth at the DBP kickoff in October.
“It’s time to begin peeling back the layers and get into the nitty gritty,” Joe Black, president of Southern Bancorp’s Capital Partners, told citizens who met last Thursday in the Clarksdale Civic Auditorium .
Black reiterated that the $800,000 already invested into the DBP to boost Coahoma County including $150,000 toward the Sunflower River weir project came from private investment – not through some government grants.
Fredalyn Fraiser, vice president for AECOM Design and Planning, said her Atlanta-based firm had evaluated the data compiled from the breakout sessions conducted Nov. 10-11 at Jonestown and Clarksdale and condensed the information into major points.
Frasier addressed the highlights from the AECOM study that included some of the pros and cons 200 citizens outlined at the three November meetings.
Frasier said goal teams would be formed to work on the five pillars set forth in the project – economic development, education, health care, housing and leadership.
Black pointed out that whereas Coahoma County’s Delta Bridge Project is in its infancy, the DBP in Phillips County, Ark. was starting its sixth year and its leadership was ready to release its 2010-2020 Strategic Community Plan.
“Five years ago, the first phase of the Delta Bridge Project kicked off a flurry of collaboration, commitment and accomplishment on the part of the entire Phillips County community,” Black stated at Thursday night’s meeting in Helena.
“The second phase of the Delta Bridge Project will build on those tremendous successes and help take Phillips County to even greater heights,” Black said. Phillips County’s DBP generated more than $74 million in investments, Black said.
Lois McMurchy, Southern Bancorp’s senior community development officer, is directing the Coahoma County DBP.
Joe Webb, chief operating officer at Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center and the DBP chairman, noted that one-third of the 26,000 residents in Phillips County live below the poverty level, unemployment stands at 12.4 percent, only one out of 15 public schools in Coahoma County has a successful academic rating and 60 percent of the single family housing in the county are occupied.
Those are some of the hurdles the DBP will be working to overcome, Webb said.