Polk County and Mena leaders and citizens spent their Friday afternoon amongst other regional leaders for the Arkansas Regional Coalition of the Ouachitas in Action workshop.
ARCO in Action is a new initiative in the partnership between ARCO and the Breakthrough Solutions Program of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension office. The purpose of the initiative is to launch a development process to move the ARCO region forward, building on what already exists within each of the communities and counties.
ARCO is comprised of Montgomery, Polk and Scott Counties and was formulated to generate a working interest between the counties to strengthen the role of tourism in the Ouachita Region.
The initial meeting took place on May 8. During the session, team members visited the three counties to identify the key issues of workforce development; marketing, tourism, and branding; business development and recruitment and broadband; quality of life and place; and funding a finance.
Phase II of the initiative took place at the Cooperative Extension office in Mena with the guidance of Mark Peterson from the U of A Cooperative Extension Service.
During the working session, groups were divided within the five key areas. Team members were asked to share what areas were working well within their counties; what the greatest assets and opportunities are in place to move forward; challenges that are faced within the county and region; identifying the ‘low hanging fruit’ projects within each county; and which additional individuals would need to be involved within the designated action teams.
After the work sessions, a ‘report out’ was conducted, followed by a wrap-up.
Phase III will take place during the Breakthrough Solutions pre-conference workshop in North Little Rock on June 25. Prior to the work session, a tour was conducted within Mena and Polk County.