The study, conducted by the executive director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Southeast Missouri State University, found that locally based small businesses created more than 58,000 new jobs since 1992, while non-resident and non-commercial businesses eliminated nearly 368,000.
"Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the past, present and future of the Delta economy," Chris Massingill, the federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, said in a statement.
Manufacturers lost 223,000 jobs over the past two decades, about 67.3 percent of the jobs in the sector. The administrative, support and waste management sector was up 61.3 percent and arts, entertainment and recreation were up 40.1 percent.
The report was released as part of National Entrepreneurship Month, according to the DRA.
James Stapleton, the executive director of the Greene Center, said small businesses created 91 percent of the net new jobs in the Delta region. The report also found that while some jobs continue to be created, the number of jobs today is still behind the number in 2001, as startup companies are creating fewer jobs, the number of closings has increased and the number of business expansions has declined.
"To be competitive and sustain economic growth in the new economy, we must invest in the creation of local systems that develop and support local innovators and entrepreneurs, to build more competitive, job-creating businesses," Stapleton said in a statement.
Stapleton used "snapshots" from Delta businesses from January 1992 to January 2010 to make his assessment.
The Delta Regional Authority targets job economic development in the lower Mississippi River valley, including portions of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.