SEAP Releases White Paper focused on Promoting Development in the Black Belt Region: A Plan for the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission

ATLANTA – Today, the Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) released a comprehensive white paper examining the recent establishment of the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC). SEAP partnered with five scholars to explore the unique challenges of the Black Belt Region and compile a list of recommendations for how the Commission could maximize its impact on the community and economic development within this region. SCRC’s purpose is to play a vital role in expanding growth and opportunity in struggling communities within the Black Belt Region, and the organizational decisions made in the coming months will be crucial to its success.

“Aligning with the mission of SEAP, the white paper’s recommendations for the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission prioritize inclusive development and community voice in the region’s growth,” said Sarah Beth Gehl, SEAP’s Executive Director. “These recommendations should serve as a springboard for SCRC to become the advanced, inclusive, and robust coalition it must be for its Southern region.”

SCRC was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill (P.L. 110-627) to promote community and economic development in the Southeastern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. However, it has not been fully established until recently when the Biden Administration named a federal co-chair to lead the Commission. As the white paper notes:

“The creation of the SCRC constitutes an opportunity to build on and extend the work of prior commissions. To that end, the SCRC should aim to foster a more community-centered, inclusive type of development. It should recognize the particular conditions—both challenges and opportunities—of the Black Belt. It should embrace the importance of more effective strategies for measuring community needs, and for incorporating race and civic engagement in such measurements.”

Some recommendations include:

  • Representation: Broadening representation at the regional level to include the voices of key stakeholders in fostering the revitalization of distressed communities, particularly those representing the interests of low-income and minority communities.
  • Governance: Adopting a modified version of its three-tiered governance structure that reflects the mission, context, and challenges examined.
  • Funding: Elevating financial emphasis on local “bread-and-butter” issues, including healthcare, education, social services, workforce development, etc.

The authors of the white paper are as follows:

  • Richard Doner, Emory University and Scholars Strategy Network
  • Charles Hankla, Georgia State University and Scholars Strategy Network
  • Michael Rich, Emory University and Scholars Strategy Network
  • Gloria Bromell Tinubu, Tuskegee University and GBT Associates
  • Veronica Womack, Rural Studies Institute, Georgia College & State University

To access the full white paper, click here.

About the Southern Economic Advancement Project
The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) is your partner and resource. SEAP amplifies existing organizations’ and networks’ efforts to broaden economic power and build a more equitable future. Broadening economic power brings attention to how race, class, and gender intersect in social and economic policy in the South. SEAP explores policy ideas designed to address these connections directly. SEAP focuses on 12 Southern states and marginalized and vulnerable populations.