Two cities working together to develop economy

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

LAWRENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Hoxie and Walnut Ridge share a rivalry that has been decades in the making.  Now these two cities that sit side by side are changing the way they do business.  Both cities have struggled to attract new jobs to the area.  The approach they are now taking is a completely new way of thinking for residents who have grown up living the rivalry.

Getting new businesses is one of the main goals for the mayors of both Hoxie and Walnut Ridge.  They know to do that, they have to work together.

"Everybody wants to bring that old animosity in," said Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker.

"It is detrimental when we get into that kind of rivalry as it relates to our cities and towns," said Walnut Ridge Mayor Don House.

It is a rivalry they're trying to overcome.

"There has to be a time in history when things are right.  This is the right time for Walnut Ridge, this is the right time for Hoxie," said Tinker.

House and Tinker now there are dividing points in their towns.  There are physical areas that do mark where the towns are divided, but they want to cross those invisible barriers.

"We are stronger together than we are separate and certainly working against one another would not be to anyone's benefit," said House.

"When outsiders come in and look at what is here they need to see that unified effort ," said Tinker.

Right now House said a handful of businesses are interested in coming to Walnut Ridge.  Several are dependent on the success of farmers who plan to plant peanuts in the county.

"We have facilities here.  We may not have everything we need for every interest, but we're going to do our best to see that their needs are met," said House.

House and Tinker say they are focused on economic development and making changes that will alter their communities for the better.  Part of making things more attractive to industry also includes cleaning things up.  Mayor Tinker said he took $5,000 out of the mayor's salary specifically to clean up the city of Hoxie.  One of the first things they've done with that money is purchase dumpster's for residents to use.

In the coming weeks the "twin cities", as they're calling themselves, will have city wide cleanups at the same time.  They want to do it "together" to put more emphasis on the cooperative spirit they share.

"We hope that our efforts will be successful, only time will tell," said Tinker>

The mayors meet about once a month to discuss things in their individual cities and ways they can combine forces.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.