BLYTHEVILLE, ARK. – A yearlong collaboration of Mississippi County's private and public sectors culminated in the unveiling of the county's first Delta Bridge Project Strategic Plan on Tuesday. The celebration included local leaders, funders, and a special address from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission's Executive Director, Grant Tennille, who welcomed the plan to the community.
The Delta Bridge Project, which is funded by the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation, one of the South's most impactful philanthropic organizations, and by Southern Bancorp, one of the nation's leading rural development banks, is a community led plan for revitalizing the county's social and economic sectors with the goal of providing a stronger, brighter future for all Mississippi County residents.
We're excited to be part of this new phase in Mississippi County's social and economic growth, said Steve Jones, Senior VP of Programs for Southern Bancorp Community Partners. The energy and determination in this community have been clearly exhibited over the past year as the community came together around the core idea of making Mississippi County an even better place to live, work, and grow.
The planning process, which was first initiated in Phillips County, Arkansas in 2003 by Southern Bancorp, proved so successful that it was subsequently launched in Clark County, Arkansas as well as Sunflower and Coahoma Counties in Mississippi.
Southern Bancorp has seen the impacts firsthand that the Delta Bridge Project can have on a community, from increasing opportunities for youth to building stronger economic development supports to creating a safer place to live, said Jones. And with the catalytic support of the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation behind this project, I know we have the necessary ingredients to make this plan a reality.
The project's origins can be traced to 2011, when Southern Bancorp first entered the Mississippi County marketplace. As is the practice of the mission-driven community development bank, an examination of the needs of the community was started. Southern realized early on that for such an ambitious plan to be successful in the county with such a large geographic size, that a strong philanthropic partner would be critical. That partner was found in the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation.
When Southern approached us about providing the initial funding for this project, our board quickly realized the impact potential, said Michelle Monse, President of the King Foundation. We see in this part of the state, and this plan, the greatest opportunity to improve the overall quality of life in a way that honors both the Kings' values and the philanthropic legacy that is our privilege to steward.
The plan contains ambitious, yet attainable, goals for the county over the next ten years in the areas of Economic Development, Education, Housing, Quality of Life, Leadership, and Health and Wellness.
While some of the plan's objectives will take significant time and planning, others are already being achieved, said Jones, referring to the recent remediation of 18 dilapidated properties around the county. We're cleaning up the county and getting it ready to put its best foot forward.
The plan will be implemented by community led Goal Teams who have been integral in its creation. Made up of broad cross sections of the community, these teams will be responsible for shepherding the plan's goals and activities.
For more information about the Delta Bridge Project plan, visit www.DeltaBridgeProject.com.
Southern Bancorp is one of America's largest rural development banks, serving over 80,000 customers at 39 branches in both Arkansas and Mississippi. Southern invests in people and businesses in rural communities; empowers them to improve their lives; and helps them transform their communities.
On the web at BankSouthern.com and SouthernPartners.org.
Carl B. and Florence E. King started the Foundation that bears their names in 1966. Beginning with gifts from Mr. and Mrs. King, as well as a later bequest from their daughter, Dorothy, the Foundation has now grown to more than $50 million in assets and distributes approximately $2 million per year. The Foundation is committed to the highest standards of philanthropy and to honoring the original intent of the generous founders.
On the web at KingFoundation.com