December 3, 2014 Edition

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Lawrence County Steering
Committee awarded grant

Gretchen Hunt

The Lawrence County reNEW East Arkansas steering committee was awarded a Strategic Planning Community Engagement grant (SPCE) in the amount of $6,250 from East Arkansas Planning & Development District's reNEW East Arkansas Initiative to implement plans for beautification, downtown development and pass-through visitor strategies.

Funds are being utilized through a variety of media to engage citizens in community planning and project implementation.

"Because it's a county-wide project, it's best to garner as much support as possible," said Kathy Bradley, Lawrence County Chamber secretary and member of the committee. "We are welcoming new members and volunteers and are hoping that everyone in Lawrence County can be involved."

Strategic Planning Community Engagement grants provide funding to local steering committees to engage citizens who are not always involved in the planning process. Funding for SPCE is made possible by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Sustainability Planning Grant. Projects complement the local strategic plans developed out of the reNEW East Arkansas Initiative.

When the local steering committee was formed, community meetings were held and a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis was completed.

The SPCE grant will continue to aid Lawrence County in gaining more community support by enabling additional outreach tactics, namely social media ads, website updates and traditional media opportunities.

"Choosing social media as an advertising platform will be huge for us," said Bradley. "People are always using social media as a way to stay connected with others; plus, since social media is mostly utilized by young adults, it would be a great opportunity to appeal to and build a better relationship with them."

Updates to existing web presence, as well as promotion of the steering committee through Facebook and newspaper advertising are among what is being funded by this grant.

Black Rock Mayor Bonnie Ragsdale said the goal is to get additional people on the committee.

"We want representatives from each community," Ragsdale said.

Melissa Rivers, executive director of East Arkansas Planning & Development District, said community involvement is essential.

"It is vital for a community to have engagement from all citizens," she said. "EAPDD hopes that through this grant, the Lawrence County steering committee will obtain a higher vitality and become better equipped to reach the goals identified in their local strategic plan. We are excited to be able to assist Lawrence County in taking these goals from planning to execution."

More information can be found by visiting the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce website at Click on "Our Programs" and pull down to "reNEW East Arkansas." Individuals interested in serving can also contact Bradley at 870-886-3232.

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