Highways Play Important Part of Economy in Sharp County

ASH FLAT, AR--Several major highways leading out of Craighead and Greene County will lead you straight to Sharp County.

It's that series of roads the county is hoping will lead to additional economic development.

Sharp County is blessed to have a number of major highways that run through it, but sometimes that blessing is a curse.

"You are in bumper to bumper traffic and it's two lanes, you aren't going to want to stop. You are just wanting to get on and get through this little place," said Ash Flat Mayor Danny Traw.

According to Traw, just about all those highways run through his town and the prospect of widening those roads would go along way to opening up the area.

"167 is proposed to the state right now of doing three lanes through main town. Heard rumors of others. And we do have three lanes between here and Batesville, which they are working on and as you know from Hoxie to this way, they have been working on it as well," said Traw.

The prospect of widening highways 167, 62, 63 and 412 is an issue many Sharp County business owners like Marty Goodwin are in favor of.

"Just having the extra road or the turn lanes would make it much more safer and people would be more willing to come on into town," said Goodwin.

His business, Ash Flat Tire and Lube, is located on Highway 167.

"I'm going to get a percentage of whatever comes through and the more traffic that is better for everyone," said Goodwin.

Obviously, commercial businesses like a full service station would see more business with the increased traffic; however a more developed highway system could be a major shot in the arm for industry in Sharp County.

"If we get anything, it is trucked in, and if any of our businesses around here sends anything, it is trucked out," said Traw.

Cherokee Frame in Ash Flat is just one example. They ship framed mirrors and artwork to hotels around the country. There's a pretty good chance you have seen owner Bob Murphy's product.

"It's easy to tell our work. If you like the art work in the motel, that's ours," said Murphy.

He says around ten percent of his overall cost goes into shipping. So better roads mean better profit margins.

"I think it would save some money, but more importantly, it would open up the area to more businesses moving in," said Murphy.

According to Murphy there is plenty of good land in Sharp County; it just needs businesses and a more efficient way to ship the product.