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Chicot County named as third site for 'Powering Rural Development'

Jan. 23, 2009 -- Arkansas State University’s College of Business and the Delta Center for Economic Development (DCED), in partnership with the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, announced the selection of Chicot County as the third participant in the “Powering Rural Development” model project, Monday, Jan. 26, at a press conference held at the Lakeport Plantation House near Lake Village.

The “Powering Rural Development” initiative is designed to help rural areas of Arkansas build effective and sustainable county-wide economic development programs within a regional context. Over the course of three years, a total of nine Arkansas counties will be selected to participate in the initiative through a competitive process.  Sharp County served as the inaugural county for the project in July and Poinsett County was selected in October.

 “We are very excited about partnering once again with Arkansas State University and this project,” said Chicot County Judge Mack Ball, Jr. “Arkansas State did such a wonderful job with the Lakeport Plantation House project, and we believe the powering rural development initiative will lead into another great opportunity for our region.”  

“We’re excited about the Chicot County initiative,” said Jerry Smith, director of ASU’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center for Regional and Community Development. “There are strong ties between Chicot County and Arkansas State University with the presence of the Lakeport Plantation House as an ASU Heritage Site in the Lake Village area. By taking full advantage of all of the area’s assets, this county should be able to support a strong and sustainable economic development program.”

Chicot County is located in the southeastern-most corner of the state. The Lakeport Plantation House, designated in 2002 as an official project of the Save America’s Treasures program through the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is a museum and educational center operated by Arkansas State University.

“We are very much looking forward to working with Chicot County,” said Alan McVey, executive director, Delta Center for Economic Development.   “We share their expectation for strong vibrant communities and economic opportunities for their residents.  To achieve this requires strategic planning and hard work, both of which they are clearly committed to tackle.”

Kirkley Thomas, manager of economic development for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, (ECA) said, “The Electric Cooperatives have been involved in improving the quality of life for Arkansans through community and economic development for nearly seven decades.  It is a history we are proud of, and I am excited to be partnering with the ASU Delta Center for Economic Development as we strive to assist communities in realizing their potential and becoming even better places to live and work.”

The nine 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. The DCED, an arm of Arkansas State University’s College of Business, coordinates a wide range of economic development services including the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, a business incubator, and professional training services for businesses.

For more information about the “Powering Rural Development” initiative, contact Smith or McVey at (870) 972-3000 or visit for more information.



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