The Delta Challenge: A Government Partnership to Boost Entrepreneurship Across 8 States

Let’s face it: there are times when hardworking entrepreneurs could use a boost to their ecosystem and the surrounding business climate. In the distressed parishes and counties stretching across the eight-state Delta Region (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee), a new partnership aims to do just that.

Entrepreneurship and a Government Partnership

The new Delta Challenge combines the notion of a crowdsourcing challenge with a public-private partnership in the hope of producing new solutions for improving the economic ecosystem in the Delta while at the same time promoting the best entrepreneurs across the region.

The new DRA Entrepreneurship Network is an innovative approach that aims to “raise the profiles of promising entrepreneurs in the Delta region and the Alabama Black Belt,” according to the Orleans-based Times-Picayune.

The partnership intends first to “address deficiencies in the region’s business climate,” and then use the Delta Challenge to “identify entrepreneurs with strong, scalable ideas of how to fix the region’s biggest problems,” reports the Times-Picayune.

The overarching notion behind the partnership is the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats: boosting entrepreneurship across the region will enhance and enrich the quality of life of the entire population in the area.

The Delta Challenge partners

The public partner is the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), a federal-state partnership in itself that Congress established in 2000. The DRA co-chair is a Presidential appointee who collaborates with the governors of the eight-state region. The DRA’s mission is to promote “local and regional partnerships that address economic and social challenges to ultimately strengthen the Delta economy and the quality of life for Delta residents.”

The Idea Village, the private partner, is a 15-year-old New Orleans-headquartered incubator for entrepreneurs. It runs a Startup Network based on the idea that “it takes a village to grow an entrepreneurial movement” and that “entrepreneurship is an agent of change.”

The Idea Village’s CEO, Tim Williamson, says in the Times-Picayune of the Delta Challenge, “This is about … providing support for entrepreneurs coming into town, and communicating that the South is a hub for entrepreneurship.”

More information about the Delta Challenge is online on the DRA website.