Leader emerges from Demopolis

Published 1:34 pm Saturday, September 26, 2009

Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson is one of six people statewide named to serve on a Delta Regional Authority leadership panel.

The Delta Regional Authority is a commission set up by Congress to serve areas of states along or near the Mississippi River that are low-income, high-need areas. That area begins in southern Illinois and includes Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. Of the 240 counties that the DRA covers, only 10 of them are not defined as economically distressed.

Grayson’s participation in this venture may not sound like much more than just another meeting, but the potential fruits of this “meeting of the minds” are limitless.

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DRA provides appropriate funding to help solve some of the problems in rural areas.

It’s primary objective is to help areas that suffer from high unemployment rates and help develop parts of the region who, historically, have been underdeveloped for one reason or another.

Take a look at any of that criteria. Alabama’s Black Belt meets each and every one of them.

The DRA’s goals are to advance the productivity and economic competitiveness of the Delta workforce, to strengthen the Delta’s physical and digital connections to the global economy and to create critical mass within Delta communities through grant research writing and administrative training.

“What they’re trying to do is create leadership to try and work towards getting resolutions on some of these issues and bringing this part of the world up and in speed with some of the other parts of the world and within our country,” Grayson says.

That’s no small task. Primarily because it’s never been done before. The vast majority of this area that has experienced some marked form of development has, mostly, community members and local initiatives to thank for it.

The leadership course that Grayson will be involved with is a one-year course. Members are divided into teams and given a project that will benefit this region. Each state has six representatives, totaling 48 members per session.

Grayson said his group is considering working on a project dealing with GIS — global information systems — that can help cities and towns develop geographical information that can be used in many ways, including recruiting businesses.

That may sound too technical or not practical but its applications in everyday life – from mapping to 911 and emergency response – are very real.

It can be used this to help chart city water and sewer lines, saving tax dollars and improving the accuracy of these types of records.

It can be used on local businesses and homes to help determine where people can go in case of emergencies. It can strategically place residents at shelters and hospitals based on their locale and the availability of these services.

It can be used as an economic development tool.

As Mike Grayson has said many times before, “it’s just one more tool in the toolbox.”

That Mayor Grayson has been tapped to serve with this council is a good thing.

The only people who are going to look out for Demopolis are those of us who live and work here.

We’re glad to see that Mayor Grayson has put himself in position to snag any little piece of the pie that may wander down the chute.