The working draft of the Clark County Strategic Plan is more than 40 pages long. It includes the goals of each of the six subcommittees, 40 individual goals in all, and the 252 action steps needed to reach those goals. The document is not an assessment, study or analysis but rather a blueprint for change with workable plans of action, the draft states.
Here are selected highlights of the plan, listed under each subcommittee:
• Establish a county-wide Tourism Commission with a full time executive director and staff to organize and promote the county’s tourism activities. To pay for such a commission, the plan lists the establishment of a county-wide lodging and restaurant tax.
• Developing downtown Arkadelphia and all other towns, based on the “inherent resources and historical context” of each town.
• Establish Clark County as the “Natural Choice” for recreational tourism, with an emphasis on fishing, hunting and related activities.
• Partner the City of Arkadelphia with Ouachita Baptist University and the Arkansas Department of Heritage to develop a national memorial park and training center for Native American Heritage and culture on the Ouachita River Bluff and adjoining 40 acres of land.
• Create major tourist events, that would occur annually, such as themed festivals, tournaments, etc., that would promote business volume and traffic flow to Arkadelphia.
• Expand emphasis on performaning and visual arts, including bringing in high quality professional programs, working with university art departments and working with local and regional artists.
• Creating a retail/entertainment corridor along Interstate 30 from Gurdon to Caddo Valley that includes numerous venues for retail shopping, dining, entertainment and lodging.
There are 12 goals listed under the Business and Job Creation section of the plan. They are:
• Develop a unified economic development organization for Clark County that creates one countywide organization managed by a highly experienced and successful economic director;
• Develop and implement a comprehensive business retention and expansion effort;
• Improve primary entry routes to Arkadelphia, Gurdon and Caddo Valley;
• Proactively market Clark County as a premier business location to state, regional and national business and trade organizations;
• Improve the transportation infrastructure of Clark County;
• Improve the technology/communications infrastructure of Clark County to provide the county with the highest level of communications technology, including broadband and wireless Internet access;
• Initiate a structured planning and development process designed to create value-added wood products businesses;
• Expand the operations of the Henderson State University aviation programs to include aviation degrees and pilot certifications with turbo-prop and regional jet aircraft and helicopters and degrees in aircraft/airframe maintenance and outfitting; Expansion of student enrollment at HSU and OBU and coordination of business offerings with student interests;
• Complete the Arkadelphia Youth Sports Complex and actively market it for athletic tournaments and other large group events;
• Establish specific programs that support small businesses and non-profit organizations including an innovative equity buy down program for small business;
• Develop specific efforts to engage the minority communities in the county and provide needed financial services and products;
Under the Housing section of the plan, the committee lists six goals. They are:
• Commission a full scale and comprehensive housing market study to assess the need for additional housing and determine the number and type of houses needed (high end, mid range, low to moderate income, assisted living, etc.);
• Develop and implement a general neighborhood revitalization and development plan in the municipalities in Clark County. The revitalization plan will (i) improve overall community appearance, (ii) promote community pride/involvement and (iii) contain specific and measurable benchmarks;
• In conjunction with community master plans, target specific physical locations throughout the county that are commercially viable for use in the development of subdivisions, condominium projects and other types of housing in various price ranges;
• Promote and facilitate the development of retirement oriented housing within the various municipalities in Clark County;
• Promote and facilitate the development of high quality affordable housing within the various municipalities in Clark County;
• Develop and implement a home ownership program that educates prospective home buyers on skills such as budgeting, family economics, general home buyer and renter education and the benefits of Individual Development Accounts so that new homeowners are better equipped to maintain their homes in good order;
In the education section of the plan, there are six goals. They are:
• Establish Clark County as a leader in the state-wide high school redesign program and as a provider of excellent education for Arkansas and the region;
• Create a Clark County Educational Foundation with a mission of advancing the cause of public education throughout the county through unique and innovative educational programs;
• Assist business and industry (current and prospective employers) by providing a highly trained labor force through the development of a “two year” technical and vocational school that provides contextualized education;
• Facilitate growth at both universities (25 percent increase in enrollment) during the strategic plan period by improving coordination between universities and the community. Create a college town atmosphere including cultural, entertainment, educational and employment opportunities for college students designed to assist the recruiting efforts of the universities;
• Coordinate with Business and Job Creation strategic goal Number 6;
• Assure that all preschool children in Clark County are mentally and physically healthy and developmentally ready to enter kindergarten;
The leadership section of the plan includes four goals. They are:
• Develop a county-wide organization charged with implementing the Strategic Plan. This organization should contain representatives from all geographic areas in the county and be diverse as to race, gender and age;
• Implement multi-structured training programs designed to develop young/emerging leadership in Clark County – to provide an opportunity for potential leaders to engage in issues, programs and activities aimed at building a better state, and by extension, a better Clark County;
• Develop a comprehensive program to retain local high school and post-secondary school graduates in Clark County;
• To promote local civic engagement, mobilize the citizens of Clark County to become the county with the highest voting rate in Arkansas.
The health care section of the plan includes five goals. They are:
• Initiate programs designed to increase the local capacity of Baptist Health Medical Center-Arkadelphia, with specific focus on expected increases in the retiree population in Clark County. In coordination with the hospital, consider a marketing campaign to promote existing service of this high quality hospital;
• Expand physician and corresponding clinic support services to under-served locations in Clark County, with specific consideration to Gurdon and Amity;
• Charter a health clinic and related substance abuse prevention and treatment facility to improve access to health care for Clark County residents;
• Create a web site and corresponding collateral material to provide comprehensive information on health care services available in Clark County;
• Identify university students who are pursuing health care careers and create an incentive program designed to entice the health care students to remain in or return to Clark County once they receive their professional license or certification.