Just a few miles north of Ruleville, MS is the small town of Drew, MS (population 2,434) and it would be just like a lot of Delta towns but for a small group of eight people who decided to start turning their hometown around, starting in the old, historic downtown.
Steve Shurden), one of those eight and recently appointed to head up ED efforts for Sunflower County told me how it started, “About twelve years ago we had a crazy pyromaniac in the town who burned out many of the downtown buildings and 30 houses in Drew. We started out trying to save the facades of those buildings and turning the ones we couldn’t into parks rather than letting them sit in neglect. We set up a non-profit organization called Drew Enterprises.”
Southern Bancorp, a development bank holding company that is the largest Rural Development Bank in the USA, liked what they saw and funded Drew Enterprises with over $500,000 in grants to continue to renovate the historic Main Street. Those efforts have led to the formation of six new businesses which created over 100 jobs.
In addition, Mississippi Delta Community College agreed to set up a satellite facility in Drew’s downtown. Over 140 students are taking college and GED courses to improve their odds of exiting from a cycle of poverty.
I’ve often observed that real change happens when one or a handful of passionate people get involved. Chalk up another one!