(KFVS) - The Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative is now an independent nonprofit.
Since its inception three years ago, MRCTI has operated under the tutelage of the Northeast-Midwest Institute. It is a mayoral-led effort comprised of 68 River Mayors committed to creating a coordinated voice for the Mississippi River
"We have reached a major milestone. As planned, we have achieved the autonomy to carry our effort forward after three years of incubation within the Northeast-Midwest Institute," said MRCTI Co-Chair AC Wharton, Mayor of Memphis, said in announcing the change. "The Institute's vision and mentorship enabled us to develop into a sustainable entity, and we thank them for their invaluable commitment to us and the River."
"MRCTI is well-positioned to continue advocating for the Mississippi River, which is America's original Main Street. Many exciting challenges lay ahead, and as America's 'elected entrepreneurs,' we will find a way to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for our nation's greatest waterway," added MRCTI Co-Chair Roy Buol, Mayor of Dubuque.
In preparation for this phase and to be closer to its constituents, MRCTI moved its headquarters to St. Louis from Washington, D.C. late last year.
Colin Wellenkamp, who has been the staff leader of MRCTI since it started, will continue as executive director and will be based out of St. Louis.
MRCTI is an effort to bring national attention back to the Mississippi River and cultivate a new level of regional cooperation to make it more sustainable.
They say the river is responsible for creating $200 billion worth of U.S. GDP; providing drinking water for more than 20 million; transporting 40 percent of the nation's agricultural output; delivering nearly 400 tons of coal and petroleum products; and directly supporting one million jobs and millions more indirectly.
In the past three years, MRCTI has been successful at uniting various stakeholders to protect and plan for the River.
Leaders of MRCTI also urge their fellow mayors along the Mississippi River to join them for the MRCTI Annual Meeting in Dubuque on Sept. 15-17.
MRCTI Executive Committee includes:
- Dave Kleis, Mayor of St. Cloud, MN
- Francis Slay, Mayor of St. Louis, MO
- Tim Kabat, Mayor of La Crosse, WI
- David Lattus (Secretary), Mayor of Hickman, KY
- Roy Buol (Co-Chair), Mayor of Dubuque, IA
- AC Wharton (Co-Chair), Mayor of Memphis, TN
- Mark Vulich (Treasurer), Mayor of Clinton, IA
- Dickie Kennemore, Mayor of Osceola, AR
- Tom Thompson, Mayor of Grafton, IL
- Larry ‘Butch' Brown, Mayor of Natchez, MS
- Jo Anne Smiley, Mayor of Clarksville, MO
- Hyram Copeland, Mayor of Vidalia, LA