August 1, 2007 Edition

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Director shares history
of Main Steet Paragould

Gina Jarrett (left), director of Main Street Paragould, visits with Judy Turnbull after making a presentation in Walnut Ridge.
John Bland
TD Publisher

"I'm very, very impressed with the stock of old buildings here (in downtown Walnut Ridge)," said Gina W. Jarrett, director of Main Street Paragould. She spoke last Wednesday afternoon at the Gateway Theatre to a group of approximately 25 people who are interested in joining the Main Street Arkansas program.

Jarrett came to Walnut Ridge to tell about the Main Street Paragould program and gave encouragement to local citizens to form an alliance with the Main Street Arkansas program.

Paragould became a part of the Main Street Arkansas program in 1999. Since that time, their downtown area has seen a net increase of 29 businesses and 116 jobs.

Almost $3.4 million has been invested in the downtown Paragould area since that time, Jarrett said. While $3,384,610 has come from private funding, $60,918 has been through public funding.

"We have put the belief back there in the downtown," said Jarrett. "Once the belief is there, people start investing in themselves.

"The wealth of information available at the state level is immeasurable," Jarrett said, referring to the Main Street Arkansas office in Little Rock.

She also explained that networking with other Main Street Arkansas cities is invaluable. "If it worked in Ozark and Dumas, it might work in Walnut Ridge," she said, as an example of the benefits of the network.

Jarrett and her husband are natives of Paragould but lived over 20 years in Little Rock. They returned a few years ago when their daughter became school age.

During the time they were gone, Paragould had doubled in size. While Jarrett has only been director of Main Street Paragould for about two years, she served on the Main Street Paragould board prior to becoming director. Therefore, she knew what the job entailed.

Main Street Paragould has a budget of $42,000, and Jarrett is the only paid staff member.

"You've got to promote yourself ... to let people know what's going on," she said.

"What can your downtown become?" asked Jarrett. "You are limited only by your imagination, time and money.

"It's hard work," she added.

Jarrett said she once heard a speaker say, "The only difference between a hallucination and a vision is how many people see it."

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