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First strategic planning session is held

By Steve Fellers

“Without a plan, nothing will happen.”

A “workable and visionary plan” is what’s needed for Arkadelphia and Clark County to
grow, said Dr. Charles Dunn, president of Henderson State University.

Dunn welcomed about 200 citizens, who attended the first community strategic planning
session Tuesday evening at Ouachita Baptist University.

Arkadelphia’s population has not increased since before 1980, said Dr. Wesley Kluck as he
pointed to a chart projected on a large screen. Kluck is co-chairman of the planning
process called Clark County Strategic Planning, which is a joint project by Ouachita Baptist
and Henderson State universities through the Joint Educational Consortium.

Kluck displayed graphics that illustrated Arkadelphia’s decline in several categories, while
similar-sized cities have experienced significant growth. The categories included revenue
loss for schools, increasing unemployment rates, a labor force decline, decreasing bank
deposits and loss of manufacturing jobs.

“Strategic planning works,” said Alan Wright, Kluck’s co-chairman. “Going through the
planning process is very important.” He said the planning effort will establish a mission
statement with goals and objectives.

“Strategic planning never ends,” he said, urging everyone to “think big.”

Wright said Strategic Planning will hire a professional facilitator to guide the effort. The
facilitator will be supported with funding from Southern Development Bancorp, the Ross
Foundation, Olds Foundation and Cabe Foundation. “The costs are covered,” he said.

While the effort will initially be funded with local support, Strategic Planning will eventually
seek funding from outside the county.

An organizational chart was displayed. Members of the community will be appointed to
chair and serve on the committees. The chart can be viewed online at clarkcountyplan.org.
Those attending the meeting were asked to fill out cards and submit their preference for
a committee to serve on.

When asked who will choose the committee chairs and other positions, Kluck said, “The
community will determine the leadership. We want everyone to have a voice.”

Kluck and Wright agreed that the planning stage will continue for at least a year.

When they opened up the floor for questions, someone asked, “How do we know this will
be completed?”

“I promise it will,” Kluck said, which led to applause. “If you want the county to improve,
you should support it.”

“This will work,” said Phil Baldwin, president of Southern Development Bancorp. He said he
had seen communities raise millions of dollars with similar efforts.

“This will be what changes Clark County,” he said. “Don’t worry about funding, it will be
there.”

The date for the next meeting has not yet been set, but Kluck hopes to hold it within a
month.

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