Karen Karp & Partners was retained by the Memphis-based AgLaunch to develop an economic development and innovation strategy for the regional agriculture system of the Mid-South Delta Region. Consisting of 98 counties in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee, the Mid-South Delta is home to remarkable assets that support a multi-billion-dollar agriculture and food economy.
While historically robust with many natural resources and critical infrastructure in place, the agriculture industry in the Mid-South Delta nevertheless faces a crisis brought on by falling commodity prices, increasing global production, a lack of crop diversity, and a system that is generally designed to export unprocessed commodities rather than capture value within the region itself. The desire to create a new agriculture economy was instigated by a motivation to not just head off this crisis but to also envision and create a new, healthy, durable strategy for the future of the region that is diverse and inclusive.
Developed with our partners Mass Economics, recommendations were grounded in extensive quantitative and qualitative data about the region’s agriculture economy, its historical prominence as a national and global distribution hub, the social and health conditions of both rural and urban centers, and the importance of Memphis as one of the top ten cities for food and beverage manufacturing. Phase one captured the unique dynamics across the region, the barriers standing in the way of progress and growth, and four stages of innovation that map a way forward for the region.