Arkansas State University


Markham Howe
Sara McNeil
Gina Bowman

(870) 972-3056
fax (870) 972-3069

More information:

Links to News Releases
& Announcements

Campus Calendar
Public activities at ASU

Campus News
Faculty and Staff

About ASU
Overview, history
and more

ASU's DCED partners with Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and Sharp County in rural development program

July 23, 2008 -- Arkansas State University’s College of Business and the Delta Center for Economic Development, in partnership with the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, today announced the selection of Sharp County as the first participant in the “Powering Rural Development” model project. The “Powering Rural Development” initiative is designed to help rural areas of Arkansas build effective and sustainable county-wide economic development programs. Over the course of three years, a total of nine Arkansas counties will be selected to participate in the initiative through a competitive process.

Alan McVey, executive director, ASU's Delta Center for Economic Development, speaks at the launch of the "Powering Rural Development" initiative in Sharp County.

Sharp County Judge Larry Brown was joined by mayors from the county along with representatives of the Sharp County Economic Development organization and other dignitaries for the announcement ceremony, held in the Operations Center Training Room, First National Banking Company, Ash Flat, Arkansas, at 12 noon.

Judge Brown stated, “I am excited about this opportunity, especially with all of the natural disasters we have gone through lately. All of our cities and rural areas are looking forward to working together on this.” Brown added, “We were about a year into getting our county grassroots economic development group assembled when I heard about the “Powering Rural Development” program.”

Kirkley Thomas, manager of economic development for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, (ECA) said, “The Electric Cooperatives have a proud and rich history of promoting and being involved in rural development. Since the formation of the cooperatives in the 1930’s and 40’s that brought electricity to the rural areas of Arkansas, literally changing the landscape of the state, we have continued to focus our efforts on ways to improve the quality of life and assist communities in becoming even better places to live and work. This partnership with the ASU Delta Center for Economic Development (DCED) in the “Powering Rural Development” program is a great example of how we can play a role in assisting rural communities that may not have the resources or manpower to engage in full-time community and economic development."

Counties selected will receive valuable on-site training, technical assistance and coaching in rural strategic planning, organizational development, collaboration, and project management, provided by economic development professionals from the DCED.

Greg Bess, president, Sharp County Economic Development Commission, and local businessman, added, “We see the participation of the DCED and the ECA as not only timely but critical to our further development. We are happy to be chosen as one of the first counties in the program.”

“Sharp County’s proposal demonstrated commitment from every community in the county,” said Alan McVey, executive director, Delta Center for Economic Development. “We are excited about working with Judge Brown alongside the dedicated business and community leaders of Sharp County.”

According to McVey, “ASU and the DCED will facilitate and lead strategic planning. Many of Arkansas’ greatest resources lie in rural areas and in small towns between the state’s largest cities. The DCED’s goal in the ‘Powering Rural Development’ initiative is to help rural economies utilize those resources to the fullest.”

The strategic planning process is very important to the economic future of Sharp County, added McVey, “and what Sharp County should expect from this process is a greater understanding of the dynamics of a global economy and the development of their vision for Sharp County.

“We want to work to foster a true regional economy,” said Jerry L. Smith, director of ASU’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center for Regional & Community Development. “Small communities within counties best succeed by joining together to gain the critical mass necessary to carry out effective economic development.”

Frankie Gilliam, community and economic development specialist with the DCED’s Regional and Community Development division, added, “Today’s development calls for a comprehensive approach with citizens of the county, local government, development districts, and agencies coming together to identify natural and created resources and how they can best be used to build the economy.”    

Greg Bess, president, Sharp County Economic Development Commission, served as the event’s master of ceremonies.  Marty Sellers, president and chief operating officer of First National Bank, Ash Flat, and vice president, Sharp County Economic Development Commission, spoke. Other speakers included Sharp County judge Larry Brown; ASU’s DCED Alan McVey, executive director, Delta Center for Economic Development and lead coach for the initiative; and Mel Coleman, chief executive officer, North Arkansas Electric Cooperative. Coleman spoke on behalf of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. Cherokee Village mayor Lloyd Hefley spoke on behalf of the mayors of the towns in Sharp County.

For more information about the news conference, contact Greg Bess at (870) 761-2828, or e-mail Bess at For more information about the “Powering Rural Development in Sharp County” initiative, contact Alan McVey, executive director, DCED, at (870) 972-3000, or e-mail him at Visit for more information.




  NewsPage:  |  Back to TOP  |