Delta Regional Authority Co-chair Sees Brighter Days Ahead

by Roby Brock ( 2 views 

Small businesses are the key to transforming the Delta's economy and one major regional leader said it's time to “double-down” on these investments.

Appearing on this week's edition of Talk Business, Chris Masingill, federal co-chair of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), said a recent study that shows small businesses have been the catalyst for smaller job gains in the impoverished Delta region underscores the need for resources to be dedicated to these efforts.

“The study reinforces what a lot of us have been saying,” Masingill said. “Small businesses are the real building blocks for our economy. This report really emphasizes that and every small rural community in our part of the country can have a strategy and a plan to grow small businesses.”

A recent study released by the DRA highlighted:

  • More than 90% of the new net Delta jobs over the past 20 years have been created by local small businesses of nine or fewer employees.
  • During the years of the Great Recession, local small businesses created over 58,000 new jobs.
  • During that same period, non-resident and non-commercial establishments eliminated nearly 368,000 jobs.

Masingill said the report suggests that investments like the one the DRA made in an El Dorado business incubator last week can serve as the catalyst for more small business job growth.

“The biggest access is the technical assistance and the actual location where they can come and incubate an idea and create the technical support and the environment for them to be successful,” said Masingill. “They're creating that kind of environment.”

Masingill emphasized that the focus on small businesses doesn't take away from the need for the Delta to remember its roots in agriculture and manufacturing — two industry areas that lend themselves to big infrastructure investments and larger workforces.

“What we're seeing with manufacturing is that it's coming back to the United States… it's expected to be some significant numbers in economic opportunities,” he said. “We're not saying it's an 'either-or' [situation] — we're talking about increasing the size of the pie.”

You can watch his full interview below.