AECOM selected as facilitator of Delta project

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Published: September 17,2010

Tags: community development, rural development

CLARKSDALE — The Delta Bridge Project has received a $157,000 grant to initiate comprehensive strategic community planning in Coahoma County. The grant allows the hiring of an independent facilitator to conduct the 10- to 12-month planning process, in which the entire local community will be invited to participate.

The Delta Bridge Project is a targeted geographic approach that integrates Southern Bancorp’s rural economic development strategy with local, state, regional and national programs for the Delta, and involves involvement of residents of the communities.

The Coahoma County Leadership Steering Committee selected AECOM of Atlanta as the best-qualified independent facilitator among proposals received from qualified organizations. AECOM has extensive experience in community strategic planning.

AECOM will convene at least 12 community meetings to address each of the five pillars of community development — housing, education, healthcare, leadership and economic development — that are a part of the planning process. Data collected by the facilitator will be used to compile a final report that will serve as the basis for a 10-year strategic community plan. Endorsements of the final written plan will be sought from a variety of stakeholders, including local businesses, academic organizations, local governments, nonprofits, the Governor’s Office and Mississippi’s congressional delegation.

“The strategic planning initiative will give us the roadmap needed to get on the path to economic revitalization for Coahoma County,” said Steering Committee chair Joe Webb. “Our goal is to get the entire community involved during the strategic planning activities as well as subsequent implementation of strategic projects and processes. This will be a comprehensive grassroots effort and the true beneficiaries will be residents of Coahoma County and surrounding areas.”

Willis Frazer, co-chair of the Steering Committee and president of Covenant Bank, added that this project “will be an important step forward to bringing all sectors of the community together to work for a common goal — that of turning the direction of this county around so that we see progress in education, leadership, economic development, housing and healthcare — the five pillars of development for Coahoma County as we move forward over the next 12 months.”

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