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Southern Arkansas

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South Arkansas seems to be a dwindling area of the state in terms of money and population and maybe more that I don't know of. What should be done and what can be done to improve the income, standard of living, population loss, health care, and drug problems increasing in this area of Arkansas?

I'm focusing mainly on the El Dorado, Camden, Magnolia areas, but feel free to interject opinions about Pine Bluff, Texarkana, etc. areas as well.

Thanks!

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mr. chase.

The I-69 thread addresses some of the issues. With the completion of i-69 more business should come into the area. I think it boils down to education and state investment into the area.

I'll elaborate and add more thoughts later....

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I'm assuming you're from the area and I'd be interested in your ideas for revamping the area.

Obviously, poor education is the main reason (for me) for a lot of southern AR troubles, along with a lack of incentives for development. I don't necessarily agree 100% with "government handouts," but when Mississippi is essentially doing that, and that MS is your next door neighbor, you have to compete with the same incentives. If more funding was placed for education, then our reliance on incentives would for the most part be relieved.

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Herr Richter,

I (this may be a first) wholeheartedly agree. One of my biggest problems with the legislature and respective organizations of Arkansas has been the apparent lack of funds, time, and attention spent on education. While there are a few special circumstances (ASMSA, Mills Special, etc.), many Arkansas schools are in dismal shape.

Also, I was wondering about possible ways to maybe increase tourism and bring more industry to what is already one of the most industrialized areas of the state. (El Dorado sits on the second-largest Bromine deposit in the world, oil is still pumping, and timber is a huge portion of the economy).

Any ideas are appreciated and I'll try to add my own later.

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From what I've heard, El Dorado's downtown area is already become quite a hotspot because of revitalization efforts. Unfortuantely, I've never gone there or through there on the way to LA. I'm not sure what "natural" beauty El Dorado holds to attract tourism. Perhaps this is where gambling would be handy, stopping any travelers en route to Shreveport ;) . But if gambling were made legal, then it would probably still benefit well established tourist cities like Hot Springs over El Dorado. For now, manafacturing plants for various companies, particularly Japanese automakers, would seem like the best bet. Unfortunately, El Dorado isn't in a prime crossroad of the state, though I-69 will help to an extent. Still, probably not enough.

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I believe southern Arkansas is having the same problems that the state is having, only to a bigger degree. As far as the whole state is concerned it's not as bad as it used to be. The educated people seem to leave and go get jobs elsewhere. Either they go off to college somewhere else and never come back or after college here they leave and get jobs outside the state. I'm not familiar with all of southern Arkansas, but it just seems there's not much to entice people to stay. I guess that perspective comes more from looking at southeast Arkansas. But there's also a trend of American society becomming more urban. Arkansas has never been very populated or have much in the way of cities. Most people would consider only Little Rock as the only 'real' city. If it wasn't for the fact of a couple of companies in northwest Arkansas being at the right place at the right time. Northwest Arkansas wouldn't be growing like it has. Northern Arkansas has been growing, but the Ozarks were less populated in the first place. I think most of the growth in the Ozarks are people retiring there. You don't see young people with families moving there because there really isn't jobs available. You have people that already have some money who move there because of the low cost of living that much of Arkansas has and because of the scenery. The sad thing is I don't know if I see much of a solution to the problem. From the standpoint of the urbanization going on around the country. I would imagine trying to establish your city as a focal point for that region of Arkansas. Some of the places in the Ozarks started mainly as retirement towns and worked their way up from that. That probably wouldn't be the optimal solution, but right now I think many places in Arkansas should be willing to look at anything they can at this stage. At least south central and southwest Arkansas should have one advantage over southeast Arkansas. With the southeast part of Arkansas mainly swamps, bayous and rice fields the mosquitos are pretty bad. Not much to attract many people to go to an area like that in the first place.

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When I usually think of tourism in south Arkansas, I don't think of naturaly tourism. Sure, the area is rich in history (especially in the 1920s with the Oil Boom, making the town the second largest in the state) and has some pretty cool museums (Museum of Natural Resources is, believe it or not, a really nice and enjoyable museum), but what area of the nation doesn't have that?

I often think of a form of "engineered tourism," or creating some way to bring people to the area. Gambling would be one way, I guess, but are there any others? I really love this area of the state and would love to see it grow in good ways.

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Honestly I think southern Arkansas is underrated for tourism. Granted I haven't been all over southern Arkansas. But many of the places I've seen are rather nice. I've seen many other parts of the state that aren't as nice. I think it tends to get overshadowed because of the Ouchitas and the Ozarks. I recently spent almost a week helping family move. They moved from the east side of Pine Bluff, which is the Mississippi Alluvial Plain to southwest of Pine near Sulpher Springs on the Gulf Coastal Plain. having lived in the Ozarks for so long I found the slight hills and the huge pine trees interesting. Trees in the Ozarks are much shorter than what I saw of the pine trees of the Gulf Coastal Plain. It's also much less flat than the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. One drawback is that all the pine tree forests aren't Natl Forest. They tend to be all owned by lumber companies. I have heard good things about El Dorado. Seems like there must be some way to help develop some sort of tourism or draw to that part of Arkansas. Even a little thing like some Natl Forests in southern Arkansas would at least draw some 'natural' tourism and might also draw some attention to some of the overlooked cities like El Dorado, Magnolia, and Monticello.

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Nice words for southern Arkansas! I don't know if this would be a problem with getting a national forest established within the timberlands region, but most of the pine forests you see in the lower region of the state aren't natural. Since pine trees grow much, much faster than hardwoods, pine forests tend to grow up from places that have been clearcut. Because of the amount of logging done in the lower half of the state, there are many areas that have been overtaken by pine trees. Of course, I think they're nice.

One thing El Dorado and its tiny neighbor, Smackover, have done to increase tourism is to capitalize on the history of the oil industry here. Smackover has a festival every year and a very, very nice museum dedicated to the boomtowns and their history.

My favorite ways of generating tourism have always been festivals. Often times cheap to put on in comparison with other events, fun for all people, and very effective at generating revinue, festivals offer a quick source of money and can even add to the culture and identity of a town. El Dorado's Musicfest is one I'm particularly proud of. It is by no means on par with Riverfest or the Peach Festival in Ruston (or is it Monroe?), but it does entertain and it does draw in the crowds. They've also brought in performers such as .38 Special, Foghat, Ricky Skaggs, Eddie Money, Three Dog Night, and scores of local talent. Hey- this could be its own thread.

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Nice words for southern Arkansas!  I don't know if this would be a problem with getting a national forest established within the timberlands region, but most of the pine forests you see in the lower region of the state aren't natural.  Since pine trees grow much, much faster than hardwoods, pine forests tend to grow up from places that have been clearcut.  Because of the amount of logging done in the lower half of the state, there are many areas that have been overtaken by pine trees.  Of course, I think they're nice.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah I have heard that the lumber industry owns quite a bit of land in that region of Arkansas. I have seen some obvious areas, some areas where all the pine trees line up in perfect rows for acres. I believe there are also many pine trees that have been brought in to the state that aren't native. I forget which pine tree it is, but it grows much more quickly than any of the Arkansas natives. I just thought it was also interesting because with all the pine trees it keeps it nice and green year long. Here in the Ozarks with so many hardwoods it gets really brown in the wintertime. It would be interesting if they could develop something to take advantage of the greenery around the wintertime. The only bad thing is that it is southern Arkansas and the winters tend to be much milder than here in northwest Arkansas. Winters can really fluctuate quite a bit here in Arkansas.

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