An economic training program travels across Arkansas - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

An economic training program travels across Arkansas

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Region 8 elected officials, business leaders, and non-profit organizations are joining forces to improve the economic situation of the areas they live and work in.

The Crossroads Coalition is hosting a series of economic development training sessions entitled RRegional Leadership Training Program:  Cultivating Economic and Community Development in Eastern Arkansas.

These training sessions will take place in nine different counties across the region. The purpose of this training is to provide a general overview of the economic development process to the elected officials, business and civic leaders, and even the general population.

Executive Director of Crossroads Coalition, Heather Maxwell, says they hope everyone realizes they're all links in the same chain. "This is so that everyone understands that every aspect of each of our communities works together to effect the economic development process, " Maxwell said.

This training program is the first of its kind and has been made possible through a general improvement fund grant from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission that was awarded to the Crossroads Coalition.

With that grant money, the Crossroads Coalition was charged to develop and implement a training program focusing on building a cohesive regional leadership base. "These sessions are for leadership from all levels, " Maxwell stated. "Those who are willing to come together across city and county lines to create opportunities for growth in all of eastern Arkansas."

Wednesday they held a meeting at Arkansas State University's Technical Center in Marked Tree. "Things are going fantastic, " Maxwell said. "The conversation and dialogue within the meetings has been very engaging and very exciting. The cross section of elected versus business and civic minded, non-profit leadership has really brought a different perception to what the whole process is all about."

Mayor of Marked Tree, Wayne Nichols, attended the meeting at the ASU location and says the exchange of information is invaluable to all of them. "We're talking about economic development and what we can do in each community to increase employment, population, trade areas, just a culmination of things, " Nichols said. "It's a very good with a lot of good information. After all, what's good for one town is good for the other. Everything just overlaps."

Maxwell says the most important thing to come out of these sessions is that very idea. "The biggest thing to come out of these meetings is the overall understanding that we are all in this together. That it doesn't fall on one person's shoulders in each of the communities or even in each county."

Chancellor of Arkansas State University Newport, Larry Williams, says they are proud to be a part of this step forward. "It's important for each county within its own boundaries to work together for economic development, " Williams stated. "It's even more important to realize that working with each other gives us an opportunity to improve employment. Opportunities not only for the citizens within the county, but to improve our entire region within this portion of the state of Arkansas."

Next week, they will hold sessions at East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City and at the Mid-South Community College in West Memphis. They intend to wrap up the training sessions in Mississippi and Phillip counties in December.

For additional information about the Crossroads Coalition, log onto this website.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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