The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) announced Tuesday (May 12) plans to develop the DRA Regional Development Plan IV, a new economic development strategy that will outline the agency’s priorities and actions over the next five years. This strategic plan will build and expand off the prior plans completed.
The DRA staff will be assisted in plan development by VisionFirst Advisors (VisionFirst), an economic development consulting firm which provides services focused on state, regional, and local economic development strategy as well as location advisory services.
“The development of the DRA Regional Development Plan IV is a vital component in capturing where we stand as a region and what strategies we need to take to continue moving forward,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell. “We are proud to work with VisionFirst Advisors to help facilitate this data-driven research plan and are eager to hear the input from our residents to evaluate their thoughts and needs on economic development in their communities.”
To kick-off the planning process, VisionFirst will deploy an online resident survey and conduct online interviews with stakeholders while utilizing demographic research to benchmark the communities and states against the nation.
Reassessing the Delta region’s economic status and needs is even more important as communities and the nation begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the importance of recovery and resiliency in developing the plan, VisionFirst will identify and align the Delta region’s strengths and challenges into a cohesive direction that prioritizes opportunities for the states and communities individually.
“As our nation reopens the economy, it is even more important that the DRA’s initiatives align with state and community needs,” said Gray Swoope, President & CEO of VisionFirst Advisors. “We look forward to working with the DRA staff and the hundreds of leaders throughout the region in identifying programs and tactics that will increase the economic opportunity for businesses and residents in the Delta.”
Ultimately, the Regional Development Plan IV will be an integrated framework that allows the DRA to focus on investments to best improve economic outcomes. The framework will be based on national data, stakeholder input, and best practices. The overarching goals, strategies, and tactics will build upon the existing resources and infrastructure to strategically grow jobs, support businesses, raise the standard of living for citizens, and build a collaborative network to grow the Delta region’s economy.
After 30 years of leading public and private economic development organizations in three different states, Gray Swoope helped launch VisionFirst Advisors, LLC, an economic development consulting company focused on location advisory services, economic development strategy, organizational management and result-driven marketing and communications. VisionFirst is a wholly owned subsidiary of Butler Snow LLP with nearly 400 attorneys in 17 U.S. cities as well as international offices in London, Hong Kong and Singapore. Swoope worked for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in the early 1990’s.