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Four Keys to Developing Your Community or Region

by Mark Peterson - September 27, 2019

Blytheville Air Force Base Gate sign from 1972

In his article “So long, Delta Blues," Rex Nelson, senior editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, examined several developments in the Arkansas delta that promise to have significant impacts on the future of their communities and regions. The question arises – how did these developments happen and what are the key elements that make these developments successful?

I think there are four key elements that also apply to other communities and regions in Arkansas, elements that we incorporate in our Breakthrough Solutions work with communities and regions in Arkansas.

The first two keys are vision and entrepreneurship. Southland Casino Racing, Blytheville, and Wilson all have visionary entrepreneurs who imagine a future that is exciting, compelling, and worth pursuing.

The third key is the ability to leverage assets in the community or region:

  • Southland Casino Racing leverages its proximity to the Memphis metro population.
  • Blytheville leverages its history of hosting a large air force base — a base that played a major role in the Cold War —by creating National Cold War Museum.
  • Marion leverages its location near the sinking of the Sultana, a Civil-war era steam boat that exploded and killed 1,200 people, the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history, to create a Sultana Steamboat Museum.
  • The Dyess Colony was the boyhood home of Johnny Cash, one of the most beloved singers in America and an icon of our state and nation.

The fourth key is pro-active leadership who embrace the first three key elements and have the passion and ability to paint a compelling picture of a desirable future all the while inspiring others to become part of it.

Now reflect on your own community and its many assets:

  1. Who are the visionary entrepreneurs you can support?
  2. What assets can you leverage?
  3. What is holding you back from starting the development process?
  4. How can you act on your passions--what you really want to do in your community?
  5. What would you do if you knew you would not fail?
  6. If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where?