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Delta Bridge Project for Coahoma County

Joe Webb, co-chair of the newly named Delta Bridge Project (DBP) for Coahoma County, formerly known as the Coahoma County Initiative, informed The Clarksdale Press Register that a steering committee had been formed to guide the strategic planning process for the revitalization of Coahoma County and Clarksdale.

Webb said, “The steering committee is a very diverse group of individuals. They will be responsible for the core group who gets us to implementation of the strategic plan.”

The DBP was birthed out of a meeting called by State Rep. Chuck Espy after it was announced that Delta Wire in Clarksdale was closing. The project began as a roundtable of concerned citizens, which quickly grew to more than 65 people.

The Walton Family Foundation, based in Bentonville, Ark., has agreed to provide much of the funding, and Southern Bancorp, a community development financial institution, will assist local committees and leaders in guiding the processes needed to rejuvenate the local economy and area communities.

The project will focus on six key areas: Education, Housing, Health Care, Economic and Community Development, Tourism, and Leadership.

The strategic planning process will likely take a year and will involve input from a lot of different groups, individuals, and sources. Webb said, “The best way of benchmarking is by finding a firm who has done this before to help identify pitfalls.”

The DBP will be sending out request for proposals (RFP’s) in order to find a firm to help steer the strategic planning data collection process. “We want the scope to be comprehensive enough, but implementable,” said Webb. “We want to do some preliminary vetting before we send out the RFP’s.”

Viable RFP’s will be narrowed down from ten to three. The final three firms presenting RFP’s will make presentations to the DBP steering committee. Webb hopes to have the RFP’s done by the end of this week and to the firms by the 10th of February. The RFP review will be done quickly.

According to Webb, the consulting firm selected will be able to help with the depth and breadth of information required to be accumulated during the strategic planning process. There will be focus groups, information gathering sessions, and databases used to collect data for the planning phase. “We are going to keep it focused,” said Webb.