Create Bridges in Arkansas
Create Bridges - Celebrating REtail, Accommodations,
Tourism, and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies
What is the Create Bridges initiative?
The Create Bridges initiative was launched to develop and test a process to promote and strengthen these
industries, particularly in rural areas.
The process is designed to:
1. Raise awareness of the role these important businesses play in the local economy;
2. Determine challenges and barriers negatively impacting those businesses; and
3. Develop and implement strategies to strengthen the retail, accommodations, tourism, and entertainment sectors within a region.
Create Bridges - Process
Create Bridges is a two year pilot with the first year spent engaging the community and collecting information and the second year spent implementing strategies designed by the regional steering committee. The steps include:
- Form a regional steering committee
- Conduct an asset map of CREATE businesses and existing training programs
- Host a CREATE BRIDGES forum
- Convene a retail academy
- Workforce development
- Business retention and expansion program
- Learn more about business retention and expansion here.
- Employee engagement
- Develop new strategies and actions appropriate for region based on data collected during Steps 2-4
Upcoming and Ongoing Activities
- Business Retention and Expansion Interviews, Scheduled throughout 2019
Businesses interested in scheduling an interview can reach Julianne Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-671-2158.
- Employee Engagement Survey, to be distributed in Fall/Winter 2019
- Strategy Development and Launch, Winter 2020
Create Bridges Forum/Rally
- Ozark Foothills, Held March 26 in Salem, AR
- 3Cs, Held May 1 in Lockesburg, AR
Business Retention and Expansion Roundtables
- May 6, Sevier County Business Retention and Expansion Roundtable, UA Cossatot De Queen campus
- May 20, Howard County Business Retnetion and Expansion Roundtable, Arkansas Extension Homemaker's Center, Nashville
- May 21, Little River County Business Retention and Expansion Roundtable, UA Coasstat Ashdown campus
- May 29, Izard County Business Retention and Expansion Roundtable, Calico Rock
- June 6, Sharp County Business Retention and Expansion Roundtable, Ozarka College-Ash Flat
- June 19, Fulton County Business Retention and Expansion Roundtable, Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery
Create Bridges - Regions Served
The Ozark Foothills region of Sharp, Fulton, and Izard counties has a demonstrated commitment to Create Bridges businesses and a clear desire to grow their tourism and retail industries. Famous for its annual Cave City Watermelon Festival, the area is currently in the planning process for a multi-city tourism event in 2019. It also boasts Ozarka College and the newly opened Spring River Innovation Hub. This region’s steering committee is comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders, ranging from city mayors to local business owners.
3C's (Cossatot Community Connection)
The 3C's region (Cossatot Community Connection) Little River, Howard, and Sevier region is working together to elevate Create Bridges businesses. The area is home to popular natural tourism spots, with heavy interstate traffic due to its proximity to major highways. This region’s steering committee is comprised of county extension agents and area economic developers, with a history of working together to conduct agricultural and leadership programming, and has the support of University of Arkansas Cossatot for potential training and educational opportunities.
Want To Get Involved?
There are many ways to get involved in Create Bridges. Choose an option below and a regional steering committee member will reach out shortly.
For information about the 3C's (Cossatot Community Connection), contact Lisa Taylor (Sevier County) at email@example.com, Bethany Barney (Little River County) at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Jean Ince (Howard County) at email@example.com.
Learn more about Create Bridges
While manufacturing and professional services are often the focus of economic development,
businesses focused on retail, accommodations, tourism and entertainment are important
to the viability of rural communities and regions. These industries provide needed
goods, services and amenities to local residents and visitors and enhance quality
of life. They are a major source of jobs and tax revenue in rural communities. They
often provide the first work experience for residents who move up the career path
within these businesses or go on to work in other sectors.
Currently, planning and training focused on these sectors is often neglected or underemphasized despite a need to strengthen it. As a result, small and large businesses alike face high worker turnover rates and a dwindling pool of mid/upper management workers.
The Create Bridges Initiative is a partnership among the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC), University of Kentucky’s Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s Community and Economic Development (UACES-CED), and Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service.
- Southern Rural Development Center Create Bridges
- Create Bridges in Oklahoma
- Oklahoma Create Bridges Facebook
- Create Bridges in Kentucky