Members of Arkadelphia’s Board of Directors spent most of the day Saturday meeting in special session to discuss the future of Arkadelphia. Sessions included discussion of the Clark County Strategic Plan and its applications to the city and a discussion of revenues and the allocation of funds.

The guest speaker for the luncheon was Phil Baldwin, CEO of Southern Bancorp. His topic was “What Can Be?”

In his comments, Baldwin spoke of the many opportunities and strengths offered by Clark County and Arkadelphia. “If we market ourselves, there’s no telling what we can do,” he said.

He talked about the beautiful terrain, including the nearby lakes and rivers and all they have to offer, the mountain ranges and the scenery. “You all have resources that very few towns have,” he said. “Some towns would love to have just a part of what you have.”

He encouraged the directors to foster the “small town feel” that towns in the county still have. “Most towns have lost that.”

He also urged directors and others in attendance to work with the strengths that are here, such as Baptist Health Medical Center-Arkadelphia. “Many small town hospitals are struggling,” Baldwin said, but Arkadelphia has an affiliation with a major medical center that most smaller towns don’t have.

Arkadelphia and Clark County need to capitalize on the fact that they have two universities, he said. “We’ve got 5,000 kids with VISA cards here. We need to find out what kind of businesses they want.”

He also encouraged the city leaders to work on a program that would provide scholarships for high school graduates to attend one of the two universities. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could come up with some kind of scholarship program so every public school graduate can go to college?”

Public school enrollment has increased in communities that have such programs, he said.

Such programs help attract businesses and industries, Baldwin said. Prospective industries “want to come to cities that are progressively moving forward.”

Baldwin commended board members for their dedicated service to the city and its residents. “I believe the Lord sets things out for us at the right time. You are all on the board at the right time.”