UACES Facebook 2017 Breakthrough Solutions Conference set for June 7-8
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2017 Breakthrough Solutions Conference set for June 7-8

By the U of A System Division of Agriculture
March 3, 2017

Fast Facts

  • Development on the forefront as rural Arkansas struggles to recover from Great Recession
  • Breakthrough Solutions Conference will show tools communities need to succeed in global economy.  
  • For info: Contact Mark Peterson at

(486 words)

LITTLE ROCK— With the global economy evolving rapidly, and rural Arkansas still feeling the aftermath of the 2007 economic downturn, development is a major priority for many communities.  Community and regional leaders will have a fresh opportunity to learn what works in this 21st century global economy on June 7-8, at the 2017 Breakthrough Solutions Conference and pre-conference workshops.

This year’s theme is “Re-Imagining Your Community/Region – Asset-Based, Community-Driven, and Technology Enabled.”  “We have discovered in working with communities and regions that what worked 10 or even 5 years ago may not be working as well today,” states Mark Peterson, University System Division of Agriculture professor of community and economic development.  “So we need to re-imagine what success would look in this 21st century global economy, and identify concrete strategies that will be effective.  The conference will do this, as well as featuring exciting community projects and opportunities in eight high priority issue areas.” 

In addition, on June 7, two half-day pre-conference workshops will be held: 

  • “Re-imagining Your Community/Region in the 21st Century Global Economy”
  • “Developing Cultural Competence – Effectively Engaging the Diversity of Your Community in a Diverse World”.

 “The workshops will provide valuable insights and tools that address two of the most important issues facing communities and regions today,” Peterson said. 

The conference, which will take place at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, 2301 S. University Ave., in Little Rock, builds on the work of the Breakthrough Solutions program with Arkansas communities and regions. 

One of the keys to development is identifying the assets that are already present in a community. Community assets include things such as buildings, parks, local companies, natural resources, and especially the talents and abilities of local citizens. The next step in community development is to figure out how to leverage these assets to attract tourists, businesses, entrepreneurs, families and retirees. But navigating all of this is not always easy.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Breakthrough Solutions partnership program takes asset-based development to a new level by identifying the key drivers of change, like globalization and technology, and working with communities to decide how to best leverage their assets, capitalizing on these changes. 

Two years ago, community leaders in Rison and Cleveland County, Arkansas teamed up with Breakthrough Solutions to help them deal with a stagnant economy. An assessment of county assets was performed by Breakthrough Solutions partners, and one of the key assets identified was the Pioneer Village in Rison.  A committee was formed to revitalize the village, and buildings are now being restored. The assessment also identified the buildings of downtown Rison and community leaders started a clean-up effort to make the area more attractive and welcoming to shoppers and businesses.

Since it began working with Breakthrough Solutions, eight new businesses have come to Rison, the first in 25 years.

More information on these events will be available soon, so mark them on your calendar.  For more information, contact Mark Peterson at


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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