University of Arkansas Building Stronger Economies with Rural Leaders and Developers

In *All, Agricultural Economy by AgIsAmerica

A new collaboration between the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and rural communities seeks to bring a bright economic future to northeast and southeast Arkansas.

The Stronger Economies Together program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, aims to focus local leaders on improving their economies by planning, leveraging current assets, and making regional improvements. The program offers meetings for leaders to gather for coaching, brainstorming, and plan development.

Rural areas have economic challenges and are losing population, said Stacey McCullough, head of Community and Economic Development for the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service. “In some cases, they lack the amenities that make people want to stay there. Together, we are figuring out how to help these regions thrive.”

The two participating regions determined which issues were crucial in meeting that goal.

The ten counties in the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District is working on workforce development in an area that is split between those that focus on crops and those that focus on timber and livestock.

In the six counties that formed the Northeast Arkansas Economic Development Coalition, leaders agreed to hone in on workforce, broadband, agriculture, and tourism.

Program representatives from U of A’s Division of Agriculture are confident about the progress local leaders can make strengthening their economies through Stronger Economies Together.

“Both regions have strong, passionate people who care about the place they call home, and want to make it better,” McCullough said. “In our work with communities and regions, that’s the key ingredient for success.”

To learn more about the project, click here.

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