Editor’s note:
This is the last of a three-part series on the strengths, needs and solutions regarding the growth of Arkadelphia and Clark County. This report was compiled. researched and written by students in the Advanced Reporting class at Ouachita Baptist University.

As far as solutions to the needs of the Arkadelphia area concerning growth, a survey revealed widespread interest in creating more jobs and industrial growth, developing and maintaining a thriving downtown area, promoting the area to prospective industries, reviewing of county and city government, developing new leadership, providing cultural events and entertainment, providing affordable housing and attracting retirees to the area.

The following is a break-down of the survey results:

1. More jobs and industrial growth

– More is needed than just a college track of education for students. – Aaron Stewart. “(We need) better training in middle school and senior high school, better instruction from some parents, and access to job training for certain ‘at risk’ groups.”

– Create an increased focus on development of high tech jobs and opportunities. – Don Hagar, city director.

– “We must provide a venue for continued technical education.” – Carlos Zamudio, manager, Scroll Technologies. “I have some 50 technical professionals that have no means to continue their education. This has been a difficult issue when recruiting top-notch engineers and managers.”

– “Since I arrived in 1993, Arkadelphia has not grown one iota in population.” – Carlos Zamudio. “However, it is obvious that the average income has grown significantly. This means that we are replacing population of lower income with population of higher income. Our employee population is curiously migrating away from Arkadelphia. Arkadelphia is too expensive. This explains the lack of growth and, sadly, the many great kids who graduate from Arkadelphia High School go to college and never return to live here. So, we have established that population is not growing. Let’s add the fact that unemployment is at 5 percent. Now, what happens if an industry decides to double in size?

– The importance of training leaders. – Brown Hardman. “When a community creates jobs, there will be more (money) coming in through sales taxes. We’ve got to train leaders; we should have leadership training at OBU and HSU.”

– The universities must provide students with ample opportunities to either move to local businesses upon graduation or provide the necessary tools to assist students in creating their own business upon graduation. – Paul Shuffield, Southern Bancorp. “The community must provide students with a welcoming atmosphere that will entice them to stay. The community must also be open to support new businesses once created. Existing businesses and employers must provide ample opportunities for internships and on-the-job training situations for students in school. The businesses must also work with the universities to create linkages for employment opportunities for graduating students.”

– Greater involvement and dedication to the task of industry/job recruitment in coordination with local universities.” – Al Lynch, insurance executive.

– “Because of the colleges, I think that people have become complacent concerning the economy. We have fallen behind and become reactive only and not proactive.” – Roger Wingfield

– “Expand upon what we already have, create additional jobs in doing so.” – Lewis Shepherd. “Scroll Technologies, for example, which produces. It would be great if some of the resources they need could be manufactured here, allowing other businesses to come in.”

– Develop a plan for funding industrial development. – Brown Hardman. “We must figure out how to broaden the tax base so that taxes don’t have to be increased. How? Through jobs. We’ve got to have funding. Right now, Arkadelphia has just $45,000 coming in a year versus $265,000 a year in Prescott. When you create jobs, there will be more coming in through sales taxes, etc.”

– “Funding for industrial developments that are professionally directed. Professional city/county management” – Jerry Newman, retired

2. Develop and maintain a thriving downtown area

– “We need to recruit new industries and jobs for our area, but we also need to get people to spend their money in Arkadelphia in our local retail businesses and restaurants.” – Jack Greenwood. “The problem is that we do not have the retail shops and restaurants that people want. This means our tax dollars are leaving Clark County and going to other cities. Our youth must drive to Hot Springs, Benton or Little Rock to got to a movie. While there, they eat in their restaurants and shop in their retail shops. Whereas, if we had a movie theater, smaller communities around us would be coming to Arkadelphia for movies, eating in our restaurants and shopping in our retail shops. Also, if we have a movie theater and major chain restaurants, the tourists staying at DeGray Lake would come to Arkadelphia instead of going to Hot Springs.”

3. Promote the Arkadelphia area to prospective industries.

– When we know about a business that would fit into our industrial park, we need to show them Arkadelphia and its good points to make them want to come here. – Billy Ruggles. “Arkadelphia needs men’s clothing stores and more specialty stores, too. Even chain stores like Hallmark would be great. The community needs to develop an ‘Up with Arkadelphia’ campaign. It’s an excellent idea but it takes money. The community can get money through businesses donations, the Ross Foundation and other resources. We need to sell our town, our city. Arkadelphia is a beautiful town.”

– Talk up Arkadelphia. – James Calhoun. “Citizens need to come together, meaning all the surrounding communities that are included in the Arkadelphia community, and show support of the improvement in order for (promotion) to happen.”

– We’re competing with 1,000 other towns for industry. – Eddie Arnold. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t (get new industries). We have available trained work force. We have training centers – it gets back to the quality of life.”

4. Fulfill goal of implementing a well-developed strategic plan for Arkadelphia

– The goal: A county-wide, comprehensive plan that (includes) everyone’s input. – Wesley Kluck, OBU. “The goal for the community “is to develop a plan that meets all the needs for the county, then action plans or action steps to accomplish the goals. Most people would say that Arkadelphia is … shrinking, going backward, stagnant.”

– It is important for Arkadelphia to take the time to figure out where it is, what it needs and how to get there. – Aaron Stewart. “Arkadelphia must decide if economic opportunities are worth paying for and how far they’ll go to get it.”

– The first thing we need to do is sit down and examine our community. – Lewis Shepherd. “An environment scan to see what we’re made up of and exactly where we are. Next, a SWOT analysis-strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats-analysis is necessary. We’ve got to have some benchmarks to measure our progress.”

– A plan without implementation is nothing. – Brown Hardman. “I’ve seen procrastination and thinking about things, rather than action.”

– The Comprehensive Community Plan for Clark County is the first step. – Paul Shuffield. “Once that is completed, we will have a good idea of the direction the community wants to go. We will also have assignments that are directly tied to community goals. It will also be a ‘living plan’ that will be regularly updated. That means its not intended to be created and sit on a shelf somewhere.”

– Ultimately this (plan) should lead to public investment of time and money to meet our challenges. – Bill Wright. “The need for a strategic community planning “that causes us to consider economics, housing, education, leadership and transportation.”

5. Encourage increased cooperation between Chamber of Commerce and the Clark County Industrial Council

– The CCIC and Chamber of Commerce are the determining recruiters of industry, movie theaters and restaurants. – Jack Greenwood. “Why haven’t significant steps been taken? If this has been a cry from college students and county, why have no steps been taken?”

– Provide more funding for the CCIC – Charles Hollingshead, Arkadelphia mayor. “The city gives CCIC $25,000 and the county gives $25,000 per year. CCIC has to pay rent and a secretary; there is no money to promote the city. (During) the hurricane, (we wanted) to call industries to get them here but the cost of advertising was $18,000,” which the CCIC didn’t have. If we could pass a half-cent tax, and half went to the jail and half went to the CCIC, we could put $587,000 into each every year.”

– (We need) stronger support of the CCIC. – Jonathan Huber, justice of the peace. “It needs long-term, permanent support. A sales tax dedicated to that could help achieve these goals.”

– “To be unified more under the umbrella of a strong Chamber of Commerce could generate more public awareness of the needs of the individual entities.” – Vera Downs

6. Hold public meetings inviting citizens as well as local, state and federal leaders and politicians

– “An open forum inviting local citizens, local, state and federal politicians to openly and honestly discuss what is wrong here. Ask for ideas and solutions because it is obvious nothing so far has been done. We are dying on the vine as a town. Who is out selling Arkadelphia?” – Gordon Hale

– “When people love each other and work together, things happen. If we will work toward that goal (of togetherness) and attend the meetings of the city board and such, we will see results. We need young folks to step in with their ideas.” – Billy Ruggles

7. Universities need to take action in community

– “I would like to see the two universities designate a cultural representative who would go to city board meetings and listen and submit ideas. (Also} better cooperation between town and gown.” – Raouf Halaby

8. Select leaders with open-minded approach to growth

– The Mayberry Mentality. – Aaron Stewart. “There is an attitude (in the Arkadelphia area) – the “Mayberry Mentality” – that needs to change in order for successful growth to take place. “Younger and more progressive-minded (people) need to take charge and run for local office, seek seats on various committees and commissions.”

– Board members should not limit themselves nor be limited with mundane, day-to-day activities. – Raouf Halaby. Arkadelphia needs to get away from the “Mayberry Mentality” mentioned by Aaron Stewart. “We need them to be free of these problems and devote time to a progressive approach. We need to encourage them to stand firm in their conviction when they feel it’s in the best interest of the community.”

– “(We need to) choose strong, able, wise leaders.” – Dan Grant

– “Arkadelphia can meet goals “by selecting leaders with vision who will ‘stick to it.'” Leaders should “organize committees for special issues that affect the community.” – Al McLaughlin

9. Encourage citizens to get involved and actively support Arkadelphia

– We need broad citizen support. – Ben Elrod. “We tend to ask ‘What can I do?’ (We) all can do three things: talk up Arkadelphia, give up some support, money and time, and help those who lead. Very few people are willing to lead if they know their every effort is going to be criticized and ridiculed.”

– “We need to have more pride by the people (for) the community.” – James Calhoun

10. Reevaluate the effectiveness of city and county government

– “Elect new government (and) encourage others to run for office, and establish a mayor-alderman form of government.” – Mark Overturf

– “Elected officials need to be more concerned with the ‘greater good’ and stop trying to create little ‘Fiefdoms.’ If the community as a whole prospers then each part will share in that prosperity.” Chris Wewers, Summit Bank

– “(We need to) have new blood and new faces who are willing to study other communities for comparison.” – Thannis Phillips, Arkadelphia.

– “I do think we need to bring in some new people in the city government.” – George Keck. “There are people out there with good ideas. We need people who have a lot of city contacts who move in different circles, those that go outside of Arkadelphia and see how others use the ideas. I am in favor of the city manager (form of government). Wider participation is needed in city and county government, especially professional people who have the knowledge and the connections to solve the problems. I think the city and county officials need to work together to improve the entire county, which will also improve the city.”

– “(There needs to be) more openness and accountability in both city and county government.” – Thannis Phillips,

– “The city spent a lot of money on the amphitheater by the river; however, we can’t get enough money together to have a road or bathrooms for the youth sports complex where hundreds of kids play soccer each week. This is one of my biggest pet peeves – mismanagement of city funds.” – Jennifer Byrd, OBU

– “I see two things that will help push Arkadelphia forward.” – Jonathan Huber. “First, stronger support of the CCIC. The CCIC needs long-term permanent support. A sales tax dedicated to that could help achieve those goals. Second, the city form of government needs to be changed. We need a full-time mayor pushing for growth in Arkadelphia.”

11. Rethink leadership of Arkadelphia and Clark County

– Effective leadership can create positive change regardless of who controls what. – Paul Shuffield. “The leadership must make sure they are working for the betterment of the greater rather than for the benefit of the few. Arkadelphia is entering a period of significant change in the make-up of local leadership. The past generation of leaders are reaching a point where they are ready to move to the next stage of their community and organization involvement, a type of retirement. That means that a new generation will be taking over.”

– “You’ve got to have leaders who would rather be respected than liked.” – Brown Hardman

– “I would like to see city government concerned with things other than paving streets, zoning and the like.” – Raouf Halaby

– Something needs to be done to assist the process of equipping new leaders. – Paul Shuffield. “The purpose is to provide “adequate opportunities for new leaders to acquire the necessary skills to perform their jobs; providing mentoring opportunities with the past leaders; providing the opportunity for interaction with the overall community; and, providing the opportunity for the incoming leaders to identify and interact with the generation that will follow them.”

12. Attract new residents, provide affordable housing for potential industries and their families

– The concept of being a suburb to a sister city. – Wes Reeder.
“Can Arkadelphia embrace the concept of being a suburb to a
sister city that is 20 miles from here, or 30, 40, 60 miles from
here? Can we be a hometown for those persons (or families)
out there who do not feel like anybody knows them by name or
speaks to them when they are at the grocery store or just
simply acknowledges their existence with a smile, a “hello” and
some kind words? If you can’t work in Arkadelphia, at least
you can live here.”

– Arkadelphia needs a housing strategy. – Carlos Zamudio.

– “(We need to) have a true city plan, streamline the permit
process and listen to local builders and contractors to
determine what they need.” – Aaron Stewart

– “Someone needs to ‘turn loose’ and make investment in
patio homes.” – Vera Downs

13. Explore annexation, pursue plans to expand city limits,
provide affordable housing

– With annexation, “Caddo Valley’s water bill would go down
25 percent and their fire insurance would go down, too.” –
Mayor Charles Hollingshead. “They would have two garbage
pick-ups a week and trash bags would be provided. Caddo
Valley would retain its name just as Nettleton did when it was
annexed by Jonesboro. Dr. Dan Grant of Arkadelphia and
Byron Eubanks and Ed Hunter of Caddo Valley are working
with the city to determine pros and cons of annexation.”

– How can we bring in more affordable housing? – James
Calhoun. “Getting the affordable housing is going to come with
annexation, developing subdivisions and the inner structure of
the city to get the streets and curbing before we get the
housing. We have the resources – the water supply, adequate
sewer treatment facilities, adequate law enforcement and fire
protection. But we need the land to develop housing in the
$100,000 to $150,000 range. Land has to come first in order
for Arkadelphia to have growth.”

– “(The) city needs to expand limits, add sewer and water so
more homes can be built in developments.” – Tom Duncan

– “Should consolidation occur, annexation could be of benefit
to Caddo Valley, not just Arkadelphia. Caddo Valley would have
a better tax revenue, they would turn their municipal debts
over to Arkadelphia, they would have better fire, police and
emergency assistance and protection.” – Aaron Stewart

– “Most towns that grow annex.” – Eddie Arnold

14. Clean up around town and attract people to live in
Arkadelphia

– Make property owners pick up, clean up and paint. – Raouf
Halaby. Enforce the law. Have someone there to fine owners if
they fail to do this. Take all the eyesores out. A beautiful city
brings people back. Common sense says that people will avoid
a place that looks like a dump.”

15. Attract more retirees to the Arkadelphia area

– An office of retiree recruiting is needed. – Ben Elrod. “(We)
need a person working full-time to identify prospects, promote
Arkadelphia to them, hold events and attract them to see the
county, promote provision of housing and programs of care for
them. If we build it, they will come and our own will stay here
where they’d rather be than move to a city late in life.”

– “With baby boomers aging and the need for assisted,
independent living and nursing homes seeming to be on the
rise, many of these people are planning on living in
Arkadelphia for a while; but what if we don’t have sufficient
housing? What can Arkadelphia do?” – Eddie Arnold

– We need to make Arkadelphia attractive to retirees and build
a retirement community. Don’t wait for Caddo Valley to be the
one to develop.” Dan Grant

– Provide “housing for our older citizens so they can stay in
Arkadelphia and Clark County after they need attendant care.”
– Veda Morgan

16. Provide cultural activities, recreation, entertainment, a
movie theater for college students and other residents, new
restaurants

– We need to design some feature to attract traffic from the
lake and I-30 into Arkadelphia. – Ben Elrod. (“I support) Dan
Grant’s idea about a model Caddo Indian village along the river
at the bluff or in vicinity of the riverfront park, (it would be a)
museum for the great Hodges collection. Get modern Caddo
Indian leadership to help do it right.”

– “We need to do more in terms of other recreation, especially
for young people.” – Raouf Halaby. “Because when we keep
them active we are enriching and stretching their minds and
keeping them out of trouble. The (OBU) administration needs
to take the initiative on these things (i.e. the arts and other
cultural activities) and encourage faculty members to be
creative and to think and act outside the box.”
Promote art downtown such as a sculpture garden. This
creates a permanent presence of art; promote open exhibits of
public school art, community artists and college students; hold
a weekend or Sunday afternoon festival of arts: concerts by
area artists, dance, dramas, poetry reading, etc. Summer
production: Involve the Arkadelphia theater group and
community. Have one that tells the history of Clark County or
Arkadelphia (reminiscent of The Trail of Tears or The Shepherd
of the Hills outdoor dramas; hold conferences here, using the
Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with HSU and OBU in
recruiting conferences; open a theater at the Lake; Classic film
festival; Elderhostel Program: Elders stay on campus and take
classes during the summer. Ouachita needs to get away from
the notion that (in the summer) the campus is only for
summer camps and church-related activities. Because of the
two universities ,we should be the cultural center of the
southwest quarter of the state.”
“Develop an entertainment arena that would include, but not
be limited to theaters, arcade, restaurants miniature golf, gokarts,
etc.” – Mark Overturf. “This would be hard – it’s been
tried before and failed. This goes back to forward-thinking
government officials.”

– “People flock to restaurants and tend to shop when they go
to eat. Cracker Barrel is an example. We need a restaurant
open until late at night.” – Patty Greenwood

– “Somehow make (investors) know there is something to
bring people (downtown). – Jack Greenwood. “A movie-theater
investor wouldn’t invest in downtown unless there’s a reason
to bring in people. It’ll take more than one restaurant
downtown. The open-air amphitheater is a ‘Catch 22’ to get
people downtown. The Festival of Two Rivers (needs to)
market downtown. We need specialty shops like Hallmark and
should build businesses around Wal-Mart. We’re in a prime
place for growth – we’re one hour from Little Rock and
Texarkana. The only things needed are ‘incentives.”

– “We won’t attract retirees and tourism if we don’t have what
they want. We need to make it enticing for students.” – Eddie
Arnold

– Strengthen the Festival of Two Rivers. – Bill and Vera Downs.
“In addition to the booths, include how-to and demonstration
activities such as quilt making, pottery- making, oil painting
and pen-and-ink demonstrations, etc. Utilize the creative work
being done by the craft clubs in town; incorporate the existing
croquet tournament into the festival; ask HSU and OBU art
departments to schedule exhibits downtown; establish an HSUOBU
student planning committee to come up with new ideas
for the festival; in fact, establish other planning committees
throughout the community. Bring back the BBQ cook-off.
Schedule bluegrass bands; senior citizens tennis tournaments,
and, by all means find ways to showcase our Bed and
Breakfast facilities. The bottom line: What can set us apart
from other festivals around the state?”
Other ideas on how needs can be met

– “A coming-together of the people in our community to seek
solutions. This might be done either through a combined effort
of existing groups such as he CCIC, 2025 Commission,
Chamber of Commerce, Service Clubs and religious or fraternal
groups or the creation of a new entity to address and lead in
these areas.” – James Calhoun

– How to meet the needs of commerce, industry, occupational
opportunities and communicating the “Arkadelphia message.” –
Faron Rogers, pastor. “By a joint effort of the local
governments, the Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial
Commission, the 2025 Commission and other local entities. A
definitive set of goals, regarding our future, can also be
identified and communicated by the same group and a select
group of our citizens who are visionary and ambitious. And
while both universities already do a reasonably good job of
informing our citizens of HSU’s and OBU’s value through
programs and activities that are available to the public,
creative ways of further emphasizing their community value
need to be identified and explained.”

– What will be needed for Arkadelphia to compete in the world
economy? -Ed Snider.
1) Annually survey college students to learn other interest in
living permanently in the Arkadelphia area;
2) Assemble information that documents the qualification of
students who will consider living in Arkadelphia;
3) Market the above information to potential employers in
state and out of state
4) Consolidation of government services by a local referendum
5) Institute a local tax that will be for the benefit of local
economic development
6) Work for improved traffic circulation with additional I-30
exits. Work for a bypass from east to west
7) Focus on our strengths and develop a mission statement
that identifies our objectives.”

– “Strategic community planning that causes us to consider
economics, housing, education, leadership and transportation.
Ultimately this should lead to public investment of time and
money to meet our challenges.” – Bill Wright

– “Choose strong, able, wise leaders; work together as a
community; work smart; and work in faith with optimism,
confidence, enthusiasm and persistence” – Dan Grant
Contributors to “Solutions”
Eddie Arnold, Arkadelphia business executive; Jennifer Byrd ,
OBU; James Calhoun, businessman, minister, city director; Dr.
Bill Downs, OBU; Vera Downs; Tom Duncan; Dr. Ben Elrod,
former president of OBU and chair-elect of the Arkansas
Industrial Development Commission; Dr. Daniel Grant, former
president of OBU; Jack Greenwood, insurance executive; Patty
Greenwood; Don Hager, business owner, city director; Dr.
Raouf Halaby, OBU; Brown Hardman, business executive,
former chairman of CCIC; Charles Hollingshead, mayor of
Arkadelphia; Jonathan Huber, justice of the peace; Dr. George
Keck, OBU; Dr. Wesley Kluck, local pediatrician, OBU vice
president for institutional advancement; Al Lynch, insurance
executive; Al McLaughlin; Loveda Morgan, business executive;
Mark Overturf, architect; Thannis Phillips; Wes Reeder, realtor;
Faron Rogers, pastor; Billy Ruggles, funeral home owner;
Lewis Shepherd, minister; Paul Shuffield, SouthernBancorp; Ed
Snider, consultant; Aaron Stewart, fprmer CCIC director;
Roger Wingfield, insurance executive; Bill Wright, bank
president; Carlos Zamudio, Scroll Technologies plant manager.