DRA launches creative placemaking workshop

WILSON, AR (KAIT) - The Delta Regional Authority is making it their mission to help small towns across the region uplift their communities.

According to Joshua Price, digital communications manager for Delta Regional Authority, they have launched a new initiative, a creative placemaking workshop, back in May.

Price said DRA has partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtPlace America, and the national leader of the Rural Policy Research Institute to provide a $30,000 grant and up to 50 hours in technical assistance in to help enhance rural communities.

Price said around 90 community leaders from across the region came out to the Grange at Wilson Gardens to participate.

He said their purpose is to help support small towns that aren't able to bring in a large manufacture or industry, but can utilize the assets they have to help grow the local economy.

Price said there's a variety of projects that community leaders can do.

"There's a lot of different options. It's a pretty wide umbrella," he said. "They can have a festival, attract local musicians, revitalize their downtown, paint a mural, a workshop for the kids where they learn arts; or even stuff where the kids can learn how to build things. So, there's all kinds of different projects that can fall underneath this umbrella."

Mayor Willard Ryland of Cotton Plant, a small town in Woodruff County, said DRA has helped his small town back in January when they had an electrical fire and lost their water filtration plant.

Ryland said they didn't have the funding or resources to properly rebuild, but the DRA didn't hesitate to step in.

"For our benefit, DRA funded the restoration of that facility 100 percent," he said. "That was a great surprised for us, because initially, we didn't have the funds…This placemaking workshop gives us an opportunity to share and network with people who can come in and help us to try to uplift our community."

Mayor Mike Mcgraw of Caruthersville was also in attendance. He said the workshop is a great opportunity for all community leaders to gain knowledge on what's available from Delta Regional Authority.

"There's a number of speakers, one of which I was extremely impressed with," he said. "I'm going to be emailing and talking with him and giving some of our community leaders some of the information that I think is vital to the town. I've also met people from all over the State of Arkansas, all the way down to Louisiana, Little Rock and Memphis. I'm just overwhelmed with the enthusiasm I've seen here today."

DRA plans to have six workshops across the region.

If you missed Thursday's workshop, DRA will be back in Wilson on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to speak about the Notice of Funding Availability.

Price said you can also fill out an application online at DRA.gov/creativeplacemaking.

The deadline to submit all information is July 31.

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