We are the Phillips County community working together to coordinate strategic economic development.
Delta Bridge Project is a public-private partnership between dozens of local organizations and hundreds of area individuals that is intended to coordinate community and economic development efforts in Phillips County. The Strategic Community Plan guides the Delta Bridge Project and defines its objectives. The overall mission of the Delta Bridge Project is to implement the Strategic Community Plan—and update it when necessary.
Our Focus is Our Goals
The areas that we focus our work in are carried out by each of our goal teams.
- Economic Development
- Health Care
- Leadership Development
- Tourism, Recreation, Quality of Life
The Steering Committee functions as a Board of Directors for Delta Bridge Project.
Local Development Council
The Local Development Council oversees proposals for Delta Bridge Project funding that have been reviewed by Southern Bancorp Community Partners staff.
Delta Bridge Project was conceived in 2003 by the leadership of Southern Bancorp in partnership with Walton Family Foundation who are both still involved to this day. Southern Bancorp had been working in Phillips County and began to rethink its development strategy as quality of life indicators continued to spiral downward in the county. The result was a new approach, called the Delta Bridge Project. Delta Bridge Project is a targeted geographic approach that integrates Southern’s comprehensive rural economic development strategy with local, state, regional, and national programs for the Delta. The most important aspect of Delta Bridge Project is that the organization is driven by the local community. Phillips County became the pilot site for a long-term effort to create a cluster of revitalized communities in the Delta that can support development within a 75 mile radius and, through the conflux of areas of influence, change the region as a whole.
In the fall of 2003, approximately 300 Phillips County residents began a strategic planning process to create a comprehensive Strategic Community Plan that would serve as a blueprint for community revitalization. The community achieved many of the plan’s goals and materially improved the quality of life in Phillips County. In the process of implementing the plan, the community leveraged over $74 million in support of community and economic development. But this was only the beginning.
Noted program successes include:
- Remediation of over 325 dilapidated houses
- Construction of a 20-unit multi-family housing complex
- Creation of a Boys & Girls Club
- Construction of a biodiesel facility
- Development of a sweet potato distribution facility
Additionally, the residents of the long-divided twin cities of Helena and West Helena voted to merge their two cities, representing the largest municipal consolidation ever in the state of Arkansas. The consolidated city of Helena-West Helena sought and received citizen support for a 2 percent sales tax to sustain and expand municipal services and economic development activities. The community overcame long-standing historical differences to achieve positive outcomes, demonstrating to local residents that they can achieve anything if they work together. Revitalizing this once vibrant Delta community is no longer a far-fetched dream; it is happening.
Seeking to make Phillips County a better place to live, more than 600 Phillips County residents in the spring of 2009 initiated a second round of strategic planning. The purpose was to create “a second generation” document capable of building and expanding upon the success of the first planning effort. This second generation Strategic Community Plan is intended to serve as a compass to direct program efforts in the five pillars of community development – education, health, housing, leadership and economic development.
The second generation Strategic Plan was developed over seven months of intensive planning. Each goal Team reviewed and updated their individual Mission Statements, and SWOT analyses (identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) were divided into program categories to allow Goal Teams to easily access this information. Finally, planning sessions were held in multiple townships and institutions to increase community participation.
The goals in the PCSCP are divided into five categories, which together represent the five pillars of community development in Southern’s model: economic development (subdivided into traditional economic development and tourism), education, leadership, housing, and health care. Southern has also facilitated the creation of a local infrastructure for implementing the plan, including a Steering Committee, a Local Development Council, and six pillar-specific Goal Teams, which are charged with developing plans for achieving the PCSCP’s goals. Southern works with community groups to build their capacity for implementing these plans.