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Jonesboro, three other Arkansas cities keep metro status

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Jonesboro and 143 other cities in the United States will keep their metropolitan status after a federal proposal to downgrade the cities was not adopted.

The federal proposal would have changed the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) designation to a population minimum of 100,000 from the original designation of 50,000.

Jonesboro, Texarkana, Hot Springs, and Pine Bluff were four cities in Arkansas that would have been affected by the change.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver says the city can now move forward with citywide projects without the fear of losing qualifications for grant money.

“The importance of this is that we can continue on the process of grants,” Mayor Copenhaver said, “but more importantly, it’s about taxpayer dollars that were already going to come to this community. It would have affected that and they would have gone to other communities other than us.”

Jonesboro Unlimited President Mark Young says the loss of the metropolitan status would have impacted the economic growth in the area.

“It’s really important that we continue to be an MSA because oftentimes companies look at those major metropolitan areas as a way to start their search process for locations that they may want to do business in,” Young said.

Young mentioned Jonesboro would have to compete with rural towns in the county for grant money, which would hinder the countywide growth.

Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), along with Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro), were key to the four Arkansas cities preserving their MSA designations.

Sen. Boozman said in a press release Wednesday morning, “The consequences of this change in MSA designation would have been devastating, with several Arkansas cities possibly losing out on millions in funding for basic needs including transportation, housing, and health care,” adding the Office of Management and Budget took the concerns seriously.

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