Pocahontas Experiences Economic Boom from College

August 4, 2006 -- 4:15 PM CDT

POCAHONTAS, AR -- Mayor Gary Crocker of Pocahontas would like to tip his hat to Black River Technical College.

"A lot of people get their college start here, and continue to get their degrees, that would not if this college was not here," said Crocker.  "I know that for a fact."

The college initially started in 1973, and became a technical college in 1991 when the enrollment back then was at about three hundred.  Jack McCord, Vice President of Academics, said he hasn't seen the enrollment that low in years.

"Today our enrollment on a given day is roughly 1,600-1,800 students," said McCord.  "So you might say during that period from 1991 to the present time, our enrollment has increased five or six folds," he added.

McCord said that the increase in enrollment has been a plus for Randolph County.

"It's made education affordable and accessible to students who primarily would not have attempted to go somewhere else and seek post secondary education," said McCord.  "I think it's had an impact both economically and educationally in the county."

Mayor Croker said that the influx of people who travel into the city to attend college has affected businesses in the city as well.

"It might bring 1,500 people to town on a given day," said Crocker.  "They're buying gas, going to restaurants, going to Wal-Mart or whatever else they might do.  You talk about the money they spend...how often that turns over...it's part of our life blood," he added.

McCord said that Pocahontas and Black River Technical College are good environments overall.

"It's helped Randolph County and Randolph County has been good to Black River Technical College," he said.  "We feel like it's a win-win situation."