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|Robinson heads DRA from Franklin office|
Doyle Robinson's office is in a corner on the first floor of the Franklin Parish Courthouse. It's next to the vending machines and a main side entrance, and the acoustics in the tile hall reverberate with every word spoken or step taken within 30 feet of his door.
Robinson could not be happier. He's been on the job six weeks as the Louisiana director of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and director of Renewal Communities, two big jobs that Gov. Bobby Jindal appointed him in mid-February to oversee.
"The governor made a promise when he was campaigning that he would not forget Northeast Louisiana, and that's why I'm here," said Robinson.
"I grew up in Gilbert," Robinson said.
He spent 12 years in the Franklin Parish School System and graduated from Gilbert High School. From there he went on to the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
"I have a degree in agri-business from ULM," he said.
Robinson has lived in Mangham for 32 years and retired from the USDA where he started out in the Farmers Home Administration, which was later reorganized into Rural Development. His work focused on helping small towns get the services they needed.
"We have rural communities in North Louisiana and they struggle to provide the basics to their constituents," Robinson said.
"I'll tell you one thing, the officials (in North Louisiana) are passionate, the sheriffs and mayors, to provide for their people," he said. "They are very aggressive, actually."
Robinson said Jindal recognized that passion for improvement and that's one of the reasons he chose Robinson as DRA director and put the office in Winnsboro.
The DRA is made up of eight states, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. It's one of the poorest areas of the country, and also one of the richest in natural resources and agriculture. Robinson oversees all 48 Louisiana parishes in the DRA.
Millions of dollars in federal grants are administered through DRA.
Robinson's job is to determine which projects in his parishes fit the criteria of DRA and the fit the state's vision for improving Louisiana.
The main DRA projects are transportation, health care and information technology.
Robinson said DRA funds are often used to secure matching funding from other sources.
"We like to know that our dollars are being used as leverage dollars to bring more money in," Robinson said. "DRA is big on trying to leverage their dollars to bring significant projects into being."
For the 2008 funding year there are nine projects in Robinson's district that will receive close to $2 million.
Robinson's other position, as director of the state's renewal communities, calls for him to work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to approve tax credits for businesses operating in Renewal Communities.
All of Franklin Parish is a designated Renewal Community, with tax breaks for businesses that are here and expand, which locate here or even hire employees who live here.
"The nuts and bolts of it is a system of tax credits for businesses to locate, expand or hire employees who live here," he said.
Robinson said the best way for businesses to find out about possible tax credits is to visit the Website at www.renewallouisiana.com.
"There's a place where you can put in an address and see what kind of tax credits are available there," Robinson said. "It's an incredible tool for businesses looking to relocate."
Robinson said his first six weeks on the job have been "interesting and exciting" and he sees positive days to come.
"I work with two programs that have the potential to impact the state. I think that's a pretty exciting place to be," he said.