The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a federal-state partnership serving a 252-county/parish area encompassing portions of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Led by a Federal Co-Chairman and the governors of each participating state, the DRA is charged with improving the standard of living for the more than 9.5 million people living in the region. Relative to the overall economic well-being of the United States, the Mississippi River Delta region continues to experience pervasive economic and social distress. While many areas of the American South have prospered in the modern economy, growth and prosperity in the Delta have remained largely uneven.
In 2008, TIP (with assistance from Taimerica Management Company) prepared the original Regional Development Plan (RDP). In it, TIP presented large-scale initiatives designed to address regional challenges, such as developing a healthy and productive workforce, strengthening physical infrastructure, and expanding information technology capacity and access. Rather than a continued emphasis on sustaining the region’s declining industrial and agricultural base, the RDP envisioned an economic transition to information technology and professional services. TIP updated the plan in 2015. This third iteration of the plan, the Regional Development Plan (RDP III), revised goals to drive the agency’s work over a five-year period. Shortly after the release of RDP III, Congress re-authorized the DRA’s funding with an annual budget of more than $20 million, nearly twice as large as the agency’s prior budget.