Business News for the Mississippi Delta

Justin Burch

By Mark H. Stowers

South Mississippi native Justin Burch was named the Executive Director of the Washington County Economic Alliance this past May. The nationally known community and economic developer previously worked for the Rural Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) across fifty states and two U.S. territories. Prior to that he was the program director of the Delta Regional Authority covering all eight Delta states for the Federal Economic Development Commission. Burch was also the Director of Community Development at the Foundation for the Mid-South that covers Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Each of his previous jobs have prepared him to help lead economic development efforts in Washington County.

“I started a non-profit sidecar to the economic alliance, Delta Compass, that would essentially set up the first economic development intermediary within the Delta,” says Burch.  “When you look around the country you see these in rural areas except for here. We’re able to assist more rural and smaller organizations who are doing economic and community development.”

“My goal is to build out economic development components for Washington County,” says Burch. “Everything from mom and pop shops up to multi-million dollar investment industries that employ hundreds. Then just think through regional strategies for the Delta and how we centralize Greenville and Washington County as the prime.”

Burch graduated from the University of Mississippi and also holds a Master’s Degree from Mississippi College in Social Science as well as a number of credentials from Harvard University, Princeton University, Purdue University and more covering Leadership Management, Domestic Policy and Non Profit Management. 

Burch has won numerous awards for his efforts in economic development to include the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Systems Change Award, and he has served on numerous boards to include the Alliance for Rural Impact, the Southern Rural Development Center, the University of Arkansas Medical School Consortium Board, the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Board, the Delta Philanthropic Steering Committee, the Appalachia Funder’s Network Equity Committee, and the Jobs for the Future Southern Equity Commission. He feels the new position fits in well with his previous work. 

“It’s almost an offshoot of what’s been a fifteen year career. I’ve always existed at the intersection of philanthropy and economic development for rural communities,” says Burch. “We all have our ‘pets’ and anytime there was funding that came around the national pipeline, I made sure some was sent to the Mississippi Delta.”

Burch has helped raise money for the Capps Center in Indianola for Mississippi Delta Community College and for other technical training. Burch and his wife Cameryn have two children, Catherine Lawrence and Archer.