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ASU's Delta Center for Economic
Development to launch new initiative
Feb. 8, 2008 --
Cooperatives of Arkansas, in partnership with the Delta Center for
Economic Development at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro,
announced a new rural development initiative at yesterday's conference
of Arkansas county judges held at the Wyndham Hotel in North Little
The "Powering Rural Development" initiative will focus on county-led
economic development, which the partnership calls the "last frontier" in
economic development in the state.
"We need two things for rural development to really start happening in
Arkansas," said Alan McVey, executive director of the Delta Center. "A
strong organizational base for leadership and action is necessary and,
secondly, the approach has to be regional."
"Most of our smaller towns just lack the resources to go it alone," said
Kirkley Thomas, manager of economic development for the rural electric
cooperatives. "County government is their common denominator. It is the
strong neutral organizational base that can, at least initially, help
neighboring towns combine their economic development efforts into viable
The initiative will select three counties through a competitive process
each year for three years. These counties will then receive free on-site
training, technical assistance and coaching in rural strategic planning,
organizational development, collaboration, and project management.
Participating counties will also be assisted to develop strategic
partnerships with at least one adjacent county.
The goal of the initiative is to develop a model that is adaptable to
all Arkansas counties.
"Every county and region is different," said McVey. "We have been
working with the staff of the Association of Arkansas Counties to
develop the initiative to be responsive to local differences and not be
a cookie-cutter approach."
He noted that many of Arkansas' greatest resources lie in rural areas
and small towns between the state's largest cities.
Prior to coming to ASU, McVey served for 10 years as deputy director of
the Arkansas Department of Economic Development.
For more information, contact the Delta Center for Economic Development
at ASU at (870) 972-3000, or contact Alan McVey by email at
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