Delta Regional Authority Broadband Summit Held in Memphis

Members of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) gathered in Memphis October 22-23 for the DRA Broadband Summit to provide updates from each state on their broadband initiatives. The DRA is composed of Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and each state had representation at the summit.

DRA Chairman Chris Masingill provided opening remarks. The morning’s keynote was presented by Connect2Compete Chief Executive Officer Zach Leverenz. Leverenz announced that Connect2Compete, in partnership with the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), will provide reduced-cost Internet service, affordable computers and free digital literacy training during a pilot program this fall to 45 schools in three Delta-region states, including Arkansas. Three schools in Jonesboro were selected.

The following panel discussions were also held at the summit:

  • Public Policy and Broadband, moderated by Masingill
  • DRA States’ Broadband Update, moderated by Craig Settles, host of Gigabit Nation talk radio show
  • Broadband Impacts on Jobs and Education - Demonstrating the Benefits of Wholesale Broadband Adoption in Delta Communities, moderated by Drew Clark, Partnership for a Connected Illinois
  • Broadband Funding sources for City/County Projects - Show the Policy Makers Where the Money Is, moderated by Marie Bruno, vice president, Connect Arkansas

Tony Wilhelm, director of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, served as the summit’s keynote speaker.

The Delta region, made up of 252 counties and parishes in eight states, is one of the most historic, culturally rich parts of the country yet daily life remains a struggle for many. The DRA supports job creation and improves quality of life through strategic economic development investments in the Delta region’s communities, families and businesses.

Marie Bruno, vice president of Connect Arkansas, coordinated the DRA summit.