Communities throughout the Arkansas Delta often battle against a rising tide of economic woes. As factories close and labor-intensive jobs leave small towns, populations dwindle in many rural cities.
For decades, outside investments from banks and charitable organizations helped stimulate marginal growth, but most of the heavy lifting necessary to revitalize communities must be done by the people who live there.
In downtown Helena, a building that was once a post office is now a hub for various programs that provide important services to women and families.
Helena-West Helena is part of Phillips County in the Arkansas Delta. According to U.S. Census data, the county’s population decreased over 17 percent in the last ten years, which means by some estimates the population is less than half of what it was in the 1950s. However, new community-led efforts in Helena-West Helena seek to make the area’s history and culture a catalyst for investment and growth.
The Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board is putting off selection of a site for the city’s tech park in order to discuss the specific types of research businesses that might be attracted to it.
The main topic of discussion for the Little Rock Tech Park Board has focused on site selection, but at its meeting Wednesday, members began delving into the basic purpose for the park and whether they need to consider two sites rather than one.
MISO company officials (left), Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, Governor Beebe and Public Service Commission Chairman Colette Honorable joined MISO president and CEO John Bear in announcing that the power transmission company would be bringing up to 50 high paying jobs to the city in the next 12 to 18 months.
A power transmission company says it will locate a regional hub in Little Rock, a move that company officials say will bring between 30 and 50 high paying jobs to the state in the near future.
Governor Mike Beebe and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola joined state economic development officials as well as representatives from Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator, or MISO, at the state Capitol to announce the new jobs.
MISO handles power transmitted on the nation’s electric grid and Beebe said the mostly-high tech jobs would pay an average of $85,000 a year.
The City of Helena-West Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas is no stranger to the hardships that have plagued many communities across the country during the economic downturn.
High unemployment, a struggling education system, political upheaval, a crumbling infrastructure, and even unresolved racial inequalities were once the hallmarks of this unified city in the impoverished Arkansas Delta. However, new research findings show some positive demographic trends and community development projects have some residents saying Helen-West Helena is finally making a comeback.