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A Rising Economic Tide Lifts All Surrounding Communities


You've heard it said, you've read it online, you may have even believed it yourself - "There's nothing to do in Russellville." Not to be that person but, spoiler alert! There actually is. Not only is there a decent sized list of what you can do here, but the City of Russellville, The Russellville Chamber, and Arkansas Tech University have been actively working on a 3-year strategic plan of recruiting in, fostering what we have, and embracing new business and economic developments. On December 7th they held a public meeting at City Hall to go over their draft of the 2025 Economic Development Strategic Plan for Russellville and Surrounding Areas.


The Vision

Russellville and the surrounding communities offer stunning beauty and outdoor adventure in a welcoming and safe community for all generations to work, plan, innovate, and connect.

The Mission

To sustain and grow our region's vibrant community and economy by providing leadership and resources for:
  • Business expansion and retention

  • New business recruitment

  • Community development

  • Promoting quality of life

  • Increasing educational opportunities

 

The presentation was headed up by Russellville Mayor, Richard Harris. You could tell this was an area he was passionate about as he spoke about everything they've implemented already, the plans going forward, and what was learned along the way.


After giving a summary of how this all came to be (lots of hard work, collaboration, and data) he went over the six goals included in the plan, each one was briefly discussed, and then it was opened for questions and comments.


Goal 1

Enhance Economic Development Through Industry and Business Recruitment to Attain A Strong Economy


Goal 2

Stimulate Business Retention and Expansion to Increase Employment Levels and Economic Strength of the Region


Goal 3

Increase Marketing and Promotion of the Region to Attract More Business, Tourism, and Residents


Goal 4

Support Entrepreneurship and Local Talent to Promote Current and Future Businesses


Goal 5

Support Retail Development to Ensure Long Term Viability


Goal 6

Support Quality of Place to Encourage Business Development



 

The discussion during the Q&A was particularly enlightening because we learned all sorts of new information that might not have made it to many people's radars yet.


To me, these were the most interesting ones that were discussed.

  • With electric vehicles gaining in popularity, bringing in fast charging EV stations so that travelers can stop and explore our community while they wait. This is currently in the Downtown Improvement Project.

  • Civic pride matters and the community leaders need to do more to promote the positive.

  • Travis Simpson, as the new editor, is doing a great job of making The Courier a more positive, accurate reflection of the city.

  • The Chamber is launching a new marketing campaign in January 2023 to bring more awareness to what the city offers and to help freshen Russellville's image to our citizens.

  • Workforce Development has been meeting every month and bringing different educators and educational facilities together with large employers, industries, banks, medical, STEM, manufacturing, and more. Together they discuss what workers are needed so the educational facilities can tailor programs toward the jobs that are already here.

  • With some of the money Governor Hutchinson committed to ATU for the workforce development program, our schools now have Career Coaches who help students who aren't interested in pursuing college, find paths that make sense for them.

  • 3,000 students attended our Skilled Trade Expo from 17 different school districts.

  • 25% of population didn't respond to the 2020 (or 2010) census. Which means our government is providing 100% services, to 100% of the people, 100% of the time, with 75% revenue.

  • Pope County's population is actually closer to 85,000 than the 65,000 we look like on the 2020 census. So, this is your reminder- in 2030 FILL OUT YOUR DANG CENSUS!

  • Russellville and Pope County are not dying, quite the opposite. We grew 2-3% and though that may not seem like much, in comparison, 51 of the 75 counties in Arkansas decreased in population.

  • Russellville is in the path of totality for an eclipse April 8th, 2024. It will be a HUGE opportunity to show off Russellville. And to wear those cool eclipse shades.

Questions or comments? Email them to dheadley@rsvlar.org

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