The county-wide rural development program is paid by the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and is implemented by the Arkansas Delta Center for Economic Development through Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
Hosting the meeting was Economic Development Director, Jerry Smith and Frankie Gilliam, a certified economic developer with the Delta Center. Smith said the program is very competitive, the counties that are participating are not simply chosen.
Present for the Ash Flat meeting, held at Ozarka College in Ash Flat July 21 were Sharp County Judge Larry Brown, Ash Flat Mayor Danny Traw, Hardy Mayor Lloyd Hefley, Sharp County Economic Development President Greg Bess, candidate for Arkansas House of Representatives Linda Collins-Smith, as well as numerous elected officials, civic leaders and concerned citizens.
Members were presented a video entitled "Are you Ready?" The short video highlighted the future expectations on society in respect to global growth, technology and other issues that impact everyday life.
Attendees participated in an open discussion type meeting, to come up with answers relevant to the Ash Flat area from a questionnaire provided by Powering Rural America.
Members at all the area meetings answered the same set of questions about such things as key issues, natural assets, potential for growth, innovative thinking and entrepreneurship and ways in which the Internet is being utilized.
The group also asked about key groups and institutions that could assist with a viable economic development program.
Smith said following the focus group meetings, there would also be meetings from youth groups, to provide input from the younger generation as well as a focus group with educators.
The ASU Delta Center will then compile the data and share the results with the steering committee prior to unveiling the plan to Sharp County. The plan will then go to the steering committee to form a strategy that will include both a short and long term sustainable plan.
For further information on Powering Rural Development, contact Smith at the Arkansas Delta Center in Jonesboro at 870-972-3000 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or locally contact Greg Bess, steering commitee president at 870-856-5579.