Elected officials and community activists from nearly a dozen counties in east Arkansas met Thursday at Arkansas Northeastern College to look at where the region is heading in its "reNEW East Arkansas" strategic planning.
The group heard from representatives with the East Arkansas Planning and Development District, Building Communities, ReSeed Advisors, JQUAD Planning Group and Younger Associates who all advised them of ways they can help strengthen their individual communities, and as a result the region as a whole. From trying to combat the large out migration of 18-35-year-olds to ways of attracting government funding for projects, the group was given a wide variety of options for strategic planning and quality of life improvement.
According to Felipe Zubia of ReSeed Advisors, one of the biggest issues facing a majority of the east Arkansas counties, including Mississippi County, is a decrease in population; not just in the past but as researchers look forward to 2020 population is expected to continue to steadily decline.
Overall, the group was encouraged to look at locally based, asset-based and community-driven strategies to propel each community to its end goal.
After the regional meeting, the Blytheville steering committee met to discuss planning drafts for the downtown area, local health care, tourism, property maintenance and code enforcement and crime reduction. Committee leaders will spend the rest of the year going over drafts as they prepare for 2013.