An economic training program travels across Arkansas

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

TheCrossroads Coalition is hosting a series of economic development trainingsessions entitled RRegional Leadership Training Program: Cultivating Economic and Community Development in Eastern Arkansas.

Thesetraining sessions will take place in nine different counties across theregion. The purpose of this training is to provide a general overview of theeconomic development process to the elected officials, business and civicleaders, and even the general population.

ExecutiveDirector of Crossroads Coalition, Heather Maxwell, says they hope everyonerealizes they're all links in the same chain. "This is so that everyoneunderstands that every aspect of each of our communities works together toeffect the economic development process, " Maxwell said.

Thistraining program is the first of its kind and has been made possible through ageneral improvement fund grant from the Arkansas Economic DevelopmentCommission that was awarded to the Crossroads Coalition.

Withthat grant money, the Crossroads Coalition was charged to develop and implementa training program focusing on building a cohesive regional leadership base. "Thesesessions are for leadership from all levels, " Maxwell stated. "Thosewho are willing to come together across city and county lines to createopportunities for growth in all of eastern Arkansas."

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

Mayorof Marked Tree, Wayne Nichols, attended the meeting at the ASU location and saysthe exchange of information is invaluable to all of them. "We're talkingabout economic development and what we can do in each community to increaseemployment, 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."

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

Chancellorof Arkansas State University Newport, Larry Williams, says they are proud to bea part of this step forward. "It's important for each county within itsown boundaries to work together for economic development, " Williamsstated. "It's even more important to realize that working with each othergives us an opportunity to improve employment. Opportunities not only for thecitizens within the county, but to improve our entire region within thisportion of the state of Arkansas."

Nextweek, they will hold sessions at East Arkansas Community College in ForrestCity and at the Mid-South Community College in West Memphis. They intendto wrap up the training sessions in Mississippi and Phillip counties inDecember.

Foradditional information about the Crossroads Coalition, log onto this website.

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