The Clarksdale based Delta Regional Authority, an entity created in 2000, continues to do great things for the Mississippi Delta. Some of DRA’s goals are to grow small businesses and help entrepreneurs, promote tourism in the coverage area, strengthen and cultivate innovate partnerships, promote good health, enhance and support the Delta’s workforce, and enhance transportation and infrastructure in their coverage area. Since its founding, the DRA has invested $163 million into more than 1,000 projects in the coverage area that have attracted total public and private investments of $3.3 billion. Additionally, DRA investments have helped create and retain more than 26,000 jobs, train more than 7,200 workers for 21st Century jobs, and deliver water and sewer improvements to more than 64,000 residents. Chris Masingill of Arkansas is the current Federal Co-Chairman and Chris does an outstanding job of running DRA. We at the DBJ salute this wonderful entity for helping improve the many who live in this region.
We at Delta Business Journal wish all of our readers a happy and prosperous 2017. Hope and optimism are always at the forefront of every new year when old calendars are tossed to the side and new ones are put in place to welcome in a new year. We hope the DBJ’s readers are optimistic about what 2017 and the many positives things that will take place in our region during this new year. Outlooks may be based on what took place in the Delta in 2016 and if so, that is a good place to start as many positives occurred in our region this past year. One of the most positive in 2016 was the opening of GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi in Cleveland that will serve as an anchor to the many other museums now located in the region. The GRAMMY Museum will become a beacon for tourists far and wide who are interested in seeing the Delta and that will go a long way toward our tourism agenda and strategy. Another point of light—farming in 2016 was not the disaster many ag pundits had predicted it would be at the start of 2016. Our area of the state survives on agriculture and when the farmers do well, so does the Mississippi Delta. Infrastructure wise, the state and other government entities finally determined the Delta’s roads and bridges were in need of attention and that is now taking place all over the region. In our healthcare system, 2016 saw several upgrades in our telehealth programs that will enhance the care of our citizens who are being treated in rural areas. Our people must be healthy in order to live a productive life. In the area of education, several elementary and high schools as well as our junior colleges and two universities reassessed their curriculums and determined some of their programs were not an asset to their schools. These lesser performing programs will be discontinued, existing ones enhanced and new ones will soon be on the way—to better the educational opportunities for all Deltans. In the area of Economic development, our region saw many business and manufacturing concerns expand and we currently witnessing downtown upgrades in Clarksdale, Cleveland, and Greenville in the way of refurbishments and new construction. While 2016 was a step forward in a variety of ways for the Mississippi Delta, this past year also saw the passing of several longtime leaders. Their hard work and commitment to the Delta will never be forgotten. In 2017, let’s continue to move our region of Mississippi forward.
The Great Divide
We are a country in deep trouble and after the presidential election there is only one remedy: reconciliation. Modern times have driven us apart, but our country has been divided before and the name of that division was the Civil War. America was made whole again after that divide. If we don’t come back together after November 8 and we continue this downward spiral, our country will go the way of other democracies of the past … right out of existence. We are at the breaking point. It will be up to both liberals and conservatives to find that middle ground, to find the empathy and understanding needed to put the greater good of this country first, and our personal agendas second.
Making Youth Better
One of the most important youth development programs offered is a 4-H program. With over 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 4-H professionals mentoring six million 4-H’ers across the U.S., 4-H is the largest youth development organization in our country. Often, 4-H is the first opportunity young people have to learn many of the skills needed to successfully maneuver through life. 4-H programs help young people build self esteem, help its members learn how to make good decisions, it teaches members how to be responsible, and teaches them sound communication skills. Additionally, in 4-H young people learn how to conceptualize a task and carry it out all of the way to the end. The Mississippi Delta is full of Cooperative Extension offices that implement and oversee these programs. As we look for ways to enhance the lives of our children here in the Mississippi Delta, let’s not forget our 4-H programs and the tremendous opportunities they offer.
The Countdown Begins
As we move closer to the Presidential election, for the first time in our country’s history, Americans will be faced with two candidates vying for The White House who carry overwhelmingly unfavorable numbers in many areas. For many Republicans and Democrats alike, these people are unhappy with their party’s choice of candidate. The national media has overwhelmingly been against Trump and to his credit, he has given them the content they needed to pounce. Hillary’s honesty has always been in question, long before she became a candidate, and the conservative media has made light of this. Politics today are not what it was years ago when the platform of each presidential candidate was clear. Back in the good old days presidential candidates actually talked about the specifics of their plans as to how the country could move forward under their watch. In today’s political races, candidates focus on the sound bites and are sketchy on the details. Sound bites play well in today’s media due to the short attention span of Americans who have mostly forgotten how to think and analyze thanks to the Internet and social media. Where’s the beef in this election? The voters are still waiting for it.
Smoke Across Land
Riding down the back roads and highways of the Delta these days motorists are finding they are often driving through a deep sea of smoke. That wonderful aroma means the farmers are well over halfway through harvesting their crops and are burning the stalks that remain in the fields. By all accounts our farmers grew some beautiful crops this season. However, many of our growers are still facing some uncertain times due to crop prices. As we have written many times in the DBJ, we support our Delta farmers who roll the dice each year not knowing the outcome. Without our ag economy, the Delta would be in much trouble. During this time of the year, let’s all keep our farmers in our prayers.
The Big Gun Grab
The Second Amendment was created first and foremost so that the citizens of our country would have the ability to resist if our government becomes tyrannical. It’s not about hunting or even to some extent self-defense, although the right to defend one’s life and property are part of it. The Second Amendment is there so that we can keep ourselves free, at least as long as we want to be free. The ‘fundamental transformation’ that has been taking place also includes the mental state of the population—shifting away from an independent minded citizenry to a dependent one. The only way for the State to gain total control though would be to eliminate or neuter the Second Amendment. The more hysteria the Left can create over guns (it’s the guns that did the mass shootings not the Islamist jihadi) the closer they get to their goal. Look at how the gun confiscations turned out in Britain and Australia – poorly, for their citizens. Thomas Jefferson said “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” The aim of the Left is to remove the mental will to resist first. This coming election will determine whether our children will be Americans in the classic sense or a new “Amerikan” socialist one—will the government serve them or will they serve the State?
Some of voters are disenchanted with the candidates, and while they don’t want Hillary to be President, they can’t bring themselves to support Trump because he is not up to the moral standards or (pick your negative adjective here). They do not want to pick any “evil” regardless of the old adage of picking the lesser evil. They sat home because the unbelievably straight laced Romney was a Mormon and look at how that turned out. Chuck Colson made a great point in that by voting for the lesser of two evils you are “lessening evil” and that’s good. For example, if two candidates are both for abortion, but one is ok with late term abortions and the other believes that abortions should be limited to the first trimester only, then one should vote for the latter. By not voting at all, you run the risk that the former would win and that of course is worse. The Progressive Left has gotten the country to the current state by small incremental steps and if we are going to save it we have to do the same. Trump may not be ideal, but we know what Hillary will do and that should be all the incentive we need.
Thou Shalt Not Steal
Teddy Roosevelt had beaten the incumbent Taft in the primary races in 1912. The party bosses at the time admitted that Taft would not be able to beat Woodrow Wilson, but disallowed some delegates and replaced others at the convention and gave Taft the nomination. TR said that the 8th commandment also meant that ‘thou shalt not steal a nomination’ and he walked out with his supporters and formed the Bull Moose Party. The vote was split and Democrat Woodrow Wilson, one of our worst Presidents, was elected. Well, history repeats. The two front runners today, Cruz and Trump, are hated by the GOP party bosses. They are both a threat to business as usual. In either case, the lobbyist money train comes to a halt. So GOP leaders plan to keep Kasich in the running as long as possible to bleed off just enough votes to cause a brokered convention. The threat to us voters is: vote for the guy we pick or you’ll get a President Clinton come November. Rubio, Kasich, Speaker Ryan and even Jeb ‘I’ll win without the base’ Bush think they’ll get the nomination, in spite of the wishes of the Republican voters. If the GOP establishment does this, then they will lose their base and the election. The problem we face is that they would be OK with a President Clinton, as long as they are still in power and raking in the money.
Opening Up Cuba
We at the Delta Business Journal watched with great interest President Obama’s recent visit to Cuba as we believe the best way to bring positive change to Cuba is by exposing that small country to the American way of life. It is time for the U.S. and Cuba to normalize relations. Human rights issues are important all over the world and Cuba has much work to do in this area … as does China. In fact, the U.S. has worked and traded with China for many years and we have mostly ignored China’s many human rights issues and violations. As President Obama enters the final days of his presidency, he will be looking for ways to establish his legacy. His trip to Cuba is one of these. His visit was a good decision. Mississippi businesses should be prepared to do business in Cuba because that opportunity is right around the corner
A few days after Christmas, one of the world’s greatest Blues historians, and a good friend of the Delta, Steve LaVere died at his home in Greenwood. Originally from Glendale, California, Steve fell in love with the blues when he was child. Steve’s claim to fame is that he is the one who discovered the two existing photos of blues great, Robert Johnson. From those photos, Steve produced the famous Robert Johnson CD Box Set that was released in the early 1990s. Only then was the greater world introduced to Johnson’s music. Steve and Johnson’s heirs controlled Robert Johnson’s song rights. If the Rolling Stones or Eric Clapton wanted to record one of Johnson’s songs, they had to clear this with Steve. By all accounts, Johnson is considered the Father of the Blues. B.B. King and the other Blues icons were greatly influenced by Johnson’s music. For over a decade, Steve also produced the annual Peavine Awards that took place at the BPAC that brought worldwide attention to DSU and the Delta. Steve was a great friend of this region researching, speaking to groups, and participating in other ways. He will be greatly missed.
Iran’s New Jackpot
Once again, a rogue foreign country has shown that if you bully the Obama administration just a little, you can get what you want. Recently, Iran released four Americans they have held captive for some time. The price: $100+ billion. This is the amount of money Iran had in various accounts and other assets in the U.S. and around the world that were frozen because Iran broke agreements and continued to work on developing nuclear weapons. And, more or less, Iran was not being a good world citizen. Iran and its regime will now soar with the release of this $100 billion and new oil sales. Continuing to give away the store, the U.S. also agreed to release and/or pardon several Iranian Nationals charged or convicted with crimes in this country for violating sanctions designed to stop Iran’s nuclear programs. Adding insult to this gigantic injury, the U.S. also agreed to transfer $1.7 billion in a settlement related to the sale of military equipment prior to the 1979 revolution. We at the DBJ are happy to see these captive Americans safely returned to this country. However, this is a bad deal on every front and Iran is now the dominant controller of the Middle East.
To listen to the Left and the establishment Republicans moan about the impossibility of deporting millions of illegal aliens would remind one of the same naysayers who opined on the impossibility of putting a man on the moon. Enough with the whining. We have been fundamentally transformed from a nation of can-do individual achievers to one of whiny dependent moochers. Truman and Eisenhower deported millions, and immigration as a whole was closed down totally to give those here time to assimilate. “Assimilation” is a bad, bad word to the Left. The whole diversity and multicultural industry is set up to promote other cultures and denigrate the American culture. So instead of a melting pot where we are all individual American citizens equal under the law, America is a balkanized collection of groups, separated by those who benefit from the social conflict. Whether or not we can deport all the illegals is irrelevant. We should begin deportations, penalize those who hire illegals, clamp down the abuse of the H1B visa program (that means you, Disney World), and then reinstate the goal of assimilation of legal immigrants into the American way.
Heads Up, HR Departments
The chaos of the day taking place at colleges is coming to you soon. Universities, even here in the South, are being run by those with a liberal or at least liberal-leaning ideology, which causes them to be hypersensitive to anyone with any politically correct grievance. The federal influence over high school education is partially to blame by saddling schools with “self-esteem” coaching of students and other teaching fads like Common Core which leave students unprepared for college. Universities are guilty of admission quotas, whether they admit it or not, to meet some “diversity” requirement. Then they have created useless majors in order that the graduating class appears suitably diverse. This gyps the students and to some extent they realize it. Who hires a “ ______ Studies”major? The root word of “diversity” is “divide.” Being so politically correct by emphasizing groups based on skin color, sex or religion, (and de-emphasizing individualism), colleges are actually making the problem worse, ironically resulting in the chaotic divisiveness going on at liberal bastions like Dartmouth. When they graduate with the “I am owed because I have a pulse” attitude, it’ll be the HR folks on the front line having to explain the real world to them. Good luck with that.