President Clinton's New Markets Tour


Highlighting the Need for Investment in the Mississippi Delta

July 6, 1999

TODAY, PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL VISIT CLARKSDALE, MS TO FOCUS ATTENTION ON THE NEED FOR INVESTMENT IN THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA. President Clinton will visit Clarksdale, MS, touring the vicinity and participating in a roundtable with local and national business leaders to highlight the untapped potential of the region. The President will also focus attention on the benefits that can be derived from Community Development Financial Institutions a major focus of the Clinton administration's economic development agenda since 1993.

President Clinton is building on his strong record of promoting economic development by launching the New Markets initiative and mobilizing corporate America to recognize the untapped potential of the Delta so that all communities can share in the prosperity of this economic expansion.

THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA FACES ECONOMIC CHALLENGES. Despite our growing economy nationally, the Delta faces significant economic challenges:

  • Pockets of High Unemployment. 25 counties had unemployment rates above 10% in March 1999. (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Per Capita Income is Low. 54 counties had average per capita incomes less than 60% of the national average that is less than $15,173. For the region, per capita income was $17,003 in 1997, just 67% of the national average. However, per capita income did grow 19% between 1993 and 1997, the same as the national rate. (US Census Bureau).
  • High Poverty. The poverty rate is 20.9 % for the Mississippi Delta. (US Census Bureau).
  • In Some Counties, Poverty is Extremely High. Within the region, 28 counties had poverty rates above 30%, such as Coahoma County, MS (37.4%); Madison Parish, LA (36.9%); Pemiscot County, MO (32.1%); Holmes County, MS (44.9%); Sharkey County, MS (42.1%); Lawrence County, AR (41.8%). (US Census Bureau).

IN THE DELTA, PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL BE JOINED BY NUMEROUS CORPORATE EXECUTIVES AND OTHER LEADERS. Richard Huber, (CEO, Aetna); Bob Cabe (EVP, Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield); Jack Haugsland (COO, Greyhound); Wayne Leonard (CEO, Entergy); Cathy Bessant (President of Community Development, Bank of America); David Bronczek (COO, FedEx); Rev. Jesse Jackson; Gregory Calhoun (President, Calhoun Enterprises); Ephron Lewis (Pres., Lewis & Son Rice Processing); Bill Bynum (Pres., ECD); Nita Brooks (Pres., Computers, Inc.).


Investments in the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta

The Enterprise Corporation of the Delta (ECD) is a private, not-for-profit CDFI (or business loan fund) that seeks to produce and stimulate improvements in the Delta's economy. Established in 1994, ECD was a recipient of $4.5 million in grants through the Clinton administration's CDFI program in 1996-98. ECD has provided assistance to hundreds of businesses in the Delta, including Waterfield Cabinet Company, which the President will be visiting today.

  • The President will announce nearly $15 million in private investments in ECD. Private sector investors include two local banks Bank of Anguila ($25,000) and First National Bank of Blytheville ($25,000) as well as Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arkansas ($100,000), Ford Foundation ($3 million), the Rockefeller Foundation, John Palmer, chairman of Skytel ($500,000), Tom Scott of Scott Trucking, the Walton Family Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
  • Prior funding of ECD has come from Bank of America, Wal-Mart, Entergy Corporation, and 17 banks, some of which will join the President in Clarksdale.
  • Bank of America provided a $400,000 low interest (3%) loan to ECD to expand financing to small businesses in Craighead, Jefferson, and Independence, Arkansas. The bank also provided a $100,000 equity investment in ECD, also to support the same three counties.
  • Bank One recently closed a $600,000 credit facility to Enterprise Development Corporation.
  • Entergy and Wal-Mart have committed to work with ECD to help Delta businesses participate in their vendor development programs.

National CDFI Announcements

In conjunction with today's focus on the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta -- the local CDFI there is nearly $150 million in investments and commitments in CDFIs and other community development organizations being announced today throughout the country. These include:

  • Bank of America will make a major announcement of $100 million in additional funding for their national CDFI initiative at Tuesday's roundtable event.
  • Allstate Insurance Company will invest $5 million in the Illinois Facilities Fund for child care initiatives in Chicago.
  • Charles Hayden Foundation ($2.7 million) and Citigroup Foundation ($750,000) have invested in the Nonprofit Facilities Fund in New York City supporting its "Building for the Future" initiative designed to provide financial assistance for Boys and Girls Clubs.
  • The Life Initiative (a $100 million pool from eleven Massachusetts life insurance companies) will invest $3 million in Boston Community Capital, a CDFI in Boston, MA
  • In addition to the CDFI's mentioned above, new investments will be made in Applebanc, the Institute for Social and Economic Development, and Detroit Entrepreneurship Institute.


  • FedEx will announce its commitment to assist with job access and job training for the transportation and distribution industries in Memphis.


  • SEEDCO has partnered with Jackson State University to create a community development program linking business development, homeownership opportunities and social services through several innovative projects. The partnership has led to the establishment of a Commercial Revolving Loan Fund, capitalized at $500,000 to provide financing to small, African American-owned neighborhood businesses.

NextDay Bringing Digital Technology to Schools

  • An outgrowth of NetDay, NextDay is a volunteer effort to connect classrooms to the Internet that was launched by President Clinton and Vice President Gore in March 1996 to help EZ communities bridge the digital divide and to trigger and nurture the implementation of digital technologies in all schools.
  • The program is a multi-year initiative that brings the connections, hardware, and software required to develop school-based learning collaboratives, including one in Rosedale, MS. Mississippi Delta West Bolivar Schools in Rosedale are using $88,000 in E-Rate funds to connect all their classrooms to the Internet.
  • Other new commitments from NextDay that will be announced today include: $2.4 million from Cisco Systems for routing and switching technology, networking academies, and teacher training and $1.4 million from 3M for fiber to the desktop programs, media conversion technology, and technical support.

Housing and Urban Development

  • HUD has awarded $1.4 million in CDBG funds to support the creation of an 800,000 square-foot Dollar General Store distribution center in Indianola, MS. The company has 3,000 stores in 24 states and will contribute $25 million in private funds to the facility. This center will create 200 new full-time jobs 51% of which will be low and moderate income individuals.

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