CLEVELAND, Miss. - Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will give the keynote address for the Delta Council’s 69th annual meeting on the Delta State University campus in Cleveland May 7.

“We are pleased that Governor Barbour has accepted our invitation to be the keynote speaker for Delta Council Day,” said Dan Branton, a farmer from Washington County and president of the Delta Council. “We believe it is highly appropriate that he selected May 7, since that weekend will mark the end of this year’s legislative session.”

Barbour is expected to discuss job development efforts, the budget crisis facing Mississippi, funding for higher education and progress being made on delivery mechanisms for better workforce training programs in Mississippi.

“Funding for higher education, the streamlining of workforce training programs for existing and prospective businesses, and Governor Barbour’s strategies for job development will be on the line when he speaks to Delta Council on May 7, and we are grateful that he has chosen the Delta Council Annual Meeting as the place to speak to these issues during the final hours of the 2004 Legislative Session,” said Branton.

In addition to Barbour’s keynote address, U.S. trade specialists from the U. S. Department of Commerce will meet with Governor Barbour and top business leaders from the Delta to discuss the potential impacts of U.S. trade agreements with Central America, Australia, and Africa, Branton noted. Major manufacturing employers in the Delta and the $3 billion agricultural industry in the Delta have huge stakes in the trade negotiations between the Bush Administration and these foreign governments.

For the third consecutive year, Delta Council will honor the top achievers from high schools throughout the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. Lt. Governor Amy Tuck will present special recognition to Delta region honor graduates. A $2,000 scholarship will be awarded to the individual top Delta honor graduate who will be selected from the 66 schools, which send honor graduates to the Delta Council event.

The annual meeting will be held at the Bologna Performing Arts Center, Delta State University, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Governor Barbour’s address is scheduled to conclude at noon, when the Delta Council members and guests will move to the University quadrangle for a fried catfish lunch on the grounds.

The 69th Delta Council Annual Meeting is being sponsored by BankPlus, Delta Regional Medical Center, KBH Corp., the Land Banks of Mississippi and Morgan Keegan.

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