Mississippi Delta Agriculture and Food Innovation Economic Development Plan
Mass Economics worked with Karen Karp & Partners (KK&P) to develop a Regional Agricultural and Food Innovation & Economic Development strategic plan for the Mid-South Mississippi Delta Region for the Ag Innovation Development Group. The Mid-South Mississippi Delta is an approximately 56.4K square mile region composed of 98 counties from Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. To understand the historic and current composition of this large and diverse region, Mass Economics compiled time-series socio-economic, demographic, workforce, economic (e.g. industry clusters), and agricultural data and developed and mapped typologies and profiles of the counties within the MidSouth Delta. Staff also developed a business services organization database and performed an assessment of capital and lending trends (e.g. agtech financing and small business loans) to identify strengths/gaps in the supports for both foodrelated businesses and farms. Contextualized within national and peer region trends, the project team analyzed changes in Mid-South Delta farm characteristics (e.g. farm size, farm ownership, profitability), crop and livestock production, and the food cluster (e.g. food and beverage manufacturing, processing, packaging, distribution, etc). The project team combined industry data with agricultural production data to map the flows in the entire food supply chain from raw farm inputs to farm production, to food manufacturing and processing, to wholesaling, to retailers and identified strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities within the region. The project team also conducted dozens of interviews throughout the region to identify specific gaps and issues in the food + ag ecosystem which, informed by our previous analytics, were instrumental in the creation of our six economic development and innovation implementation strategies for the MidSouth Delta. A second phase for the work is currently in the planning stages.