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Evaluating the city's strength and weaknesses and formulating a plan for the future with economic development, Mayor Jackie Crabtree hosted a luncheon for city and business leaders iIn conjunction with the Arkansas Economic Development Institute beginning the ACCESS Arkansas process.

April Campbell, Mike Gerfen, Grainger Ledbetter and Diego Caraballo with the Arkansas Economic Development Institute of UALR presented data.

"What we're in town to do today is sort of the kick off," Gerfen said. "Hopefully it will end with community development plan that is driven by grass roots and by access to data."

He said he hopes members of the community really get involved so people have ownership and that decision making project. He said initiatives should be driven by data, not assumptions.

"The focus will be what we can do for your community," Gerfen said, focusing on quality of life issues such as walkways, green space, building development.

According to data compiled, he said the average age of Pea Ridge residents is 31.

"That's a really young age for your population," he said. "There is only 17 percent over 65. This is not a retirement community based on numbers."

He asked persons present what kind of issues they envision and Sandy Button, city clerk and School Board member, said the school is greatly affected by the growth in town but she believes the school is "on top of that."

He noted that there is a minimal amount of available rental property.

Pea Ridge native and realtor Mike Adams agreed. "It's hard to find a rental property in northwest Arkansas."

"You are positioned tremendously," Gerfen said, because of the "proximity to the trifecta of Fayetteville, Bentonville, Rogers... very strategic.

"What projects you decide to embark on will impact your ability to take advantage of that unprecedented growth happening here in northwest Arkansas," he continued.

Showing a map, Gerfen noted that there are 576 people who live outside the city but come inside to work, 94 who both live and work in town, and 2,136 who live in town but work outside of town.

"Where do you do your grocery shopping?" he asked, noting that "shop where you live" affects the economy of the city.

He stressed that getting as many people as possible to complete an online survey would help in fact gathering. Those facts will be used in goal setting.

"It's important to get as many people as you can to take the survey in the next four to six weeks," Gerfen said.

Mayor Crabtree said: "We're sitting on a gold mine.

"It's going to depend on how well we structure ourselves, how well we can prepare for it whether it becomes a gold mine or a hole in the ground. We need to make sure we have all the tools we need to make this happen."

General News on 02/06/2019

Print Headline: City seeks input for goal setting

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