POMONA — The South Central Ozarks Council of Governments (SCOCOG), headquartered in Pomona and serving seven counties has announced it has received two awards totaling more than $225,000 from the Delta Regional Authority (DRA).
SCOCOG is tasked with the responsibility of helping facilitate the funding and execution of community betterment, economic development and infrastructure programs, working with local government agencies, school districts and nonprofit organizations to do so. Counties served by SCOCOG are Howell, Texas, Douglas, Ozark, Oregon, Wright and Shannon.
Similarly, but on a larger scale, DRA facilitates the funding of betterment programs and collaboration between federal and state entities in 252 economically disadvantaged counties and parishes n the Mississippi River Delta. Its coverage region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
SCOCOG has received a $79,995.70 grant through DRA’s 2023 Local Development District Community Support Pilot Program. Funding will be distributed over two years to support organizational capacity-building including through high-speed internet connection, computer equipment and an increase in staff hours. The latter is intended to allow staff to provide services to member communities identified as "economically distressed" and experiencing "persistent poverty," SCOCOG officials said.
A DRA 2023 Strategic Planning Grant will provide SCOCOG with a second grant of $150,000 to hire a consultant to complete a full feasibility study. The study will inform the development of industrial incubator projects, said officials, adding the incubators will provide services to startups in order to guide new manufacturing business owners. Feasibility studies must be conducted before applications for funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and are submitted by business owners, in part to determine support by key stakeholders.
SCOCOG officials also said the feasibility study will show the need and potential role of an incubator in the region's manufacturing ecosystem, services to be provided by the incubator and possible locations of incubators in the seven-county region included in SCOCOG.
The goal behind creating incubators is project development intended to meet the needs of SCOCOG’s member counties, create jobs and foster economic development and growth, funded by federal investments. The investments will allow SCOCOG, as a Designated Development District and Regional Planning Commission, to continue in its mission of meeting the needs of member communities and advance economic development goals of the region, officials emphasized.