Nelson, recently appointed by President George Bush as the alternate federal co-chairman for the Delta Regional Authority, was the guest speaker at Thursday's monthly Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
The DRA is a federal-state partnership involving Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. According to Nelson, the goal of the DRA is to improve the economic situation of some 240 parishes and counties in these states, including Scott County, by coordinating federal resources to the area.
While for much of this summer the focus has been on the region for the wrong reasons, such as the devastation of the hurricane and its aftermath, Nelson noted the region has overcome obstacles in the past, including the Civil War, the 1927 flood, the depression and the mechanization of the farm economy.
Nelson said the keys to keep from drowning in the region's current problems are education and healthcare. "There will be opportunities to take advantage of but we have to have a workforce that is educated and healthy," he said.
He stated companies are becoming aware of what the region has to offer such as transportation with major highways, railroads, the Mississippi River and airports. Pointing to a Japanese truck manufacturer's new parts plant which opened recently at Marion, Ark., Nelson said, the company has plans to continue expanding.
"If that area can take off, there is no reason the entire corridor will not benefit," he said.
Also members of Congress, realizing the danger of having so many refineries located in one area along the Gulf Coast, are calling for some refineries to be moved inland. Moving the refineries up river could also benefit the states in the Delta Regional Authority, he said.
"This area up and down the Mississippi River will prosper," said Nelson.
Missy Marshall, executive director of the SACC, noted several upcoming events. These include:
* The Missouri Delta Medical Center's Hospital Ball will be Saturday at the Clinton Building.
* The Chamber's Membership Drive is scheduled for Nov. 8. There will be a luncheon prior to the membership solicitation.
* The Downtown Merchants' Open House is Nov. 4-6.
* Also scheduled for that weekend is a Youth Soccer Tournament, which will bring in more than 115 teams to Sikeston for the competition.
* A Veteran's Day Ceremony is planned for 9:45 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Sikeston Senior High School.