The effort to address the systemic problems confronting the city was divided into four focus areas or Pillars and the Executive Committee assigned a chair to each group.
•Government/Infrastructure....... Rosalind Mouser
•Economic Development............. Nick Makris
•Quality of Life.................................. Kaleybra Morehead
A timeline for planning and implementation was created and the criteria for volunteers interested in working on GFPB was established. To ensure broad representation from the community, applications for volunteers were made available through the Simmons First Foundation. A press conference was held to announce the GFPB project and encourage public participation.
The Institute for Economic Advancement (IEA) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was contracted to facilitate the process and an orientation session was held in January of 2016. All participants were assigned to a Pillar and each group met monthly, from January through July, to gather information relating to their focus areas including hosting guest speakers and taking field trips to understand best practices and successful rebuilding efforts in other towns and cities. The Pillar participants also worked in sub-committees that met outside of the monthly, general Go Forward Pine Bluff meeting.
Beginning in July and continuing through October, the Pillar groups worked diligently to develop realistic recommendations/strategies that could really make a difference. During October and November, the Pillar Chairs and their IEA/UALR facilitators worked with the Executive Committee to draft the plan.
To read more about each of the four Pillar work groups please click here to download the Go Forward Pine Bluff Plan Book.
The early guidance by the Executive Committee for the Government & Infrastructure pillar was to study the feasibility of changes to the form of government in Pine Bluff including: replacing at-large positions with positions elected by school zone or other geographic designation; shrinking city borders to maximize city services: improving law enforcement services and infrastructure; addressing the decay of residential and commercial properties throughout the city particularly in the central city area; creating a land bank; and, revising and more effectively enforcing building codes.
Pillar participants determined that creating an effective city government and addressing the state of downtown were the two most critical challenges facing the city. Other issues investigated by the group served to support and develop its focus on these two topics.
During the research and information gathering phase of the process a number of speakers from the community as well as from outside of Pine Bluff and Arkansas addressed topics applicable to the group’s area of interest.
After thoughtful research and deliberation, the group developed a series of recommendations focused on three areas of concern:
downtown Pine Bluff, city government, and repurposing.
The Education Pillar began with two clear objectives:
• Developing primary and secondary educational institutions that are academically and financially sound.
• Improving the educational options provided by our high schools and institutions of higher education to meet the specific needs of the employers of Pine Bluff and surrounding areas.
The Pillar then identified the following areas of concern listed below in order of priority:
The pillar determined its goal was to provide the best possible education for our children, whether it was a public education or a private school option. Just as we strive in higher education, we need to be the best we can be at all levels of learning.
Although no single strategy, policy, or program can assure a community’s economic success all approaches should include five fundamental concepts.
During this research and information gathering phase of the process data was collected and analyzed and presentations were provided by both internal and external experts on a broad range of topics. The Economic Development Pillar also determined that the ⅜ cent sales tax that currently funds the activities of the Jefferson County Alliance Pine Bluff must be renewed.
After thoughtful research and deliberation, the QOL pillar developed a series of recommendations focused on five areas of concern:
Click here to download the
Go Forward Pine Bluff Plan Book.