Addressing economic development from a regional perspective was the primary focus of Tuesday’s Southwest Arkansas Regional Economic Development Leadership Conference held at DeGray Lodge.

Addressing economic development from a regional perspective was the primary focus of Tuesday’s Southwest Arkansas Regional Economic Development Leadership Conference held at DeGray Lodge.
The conference was attended by economic developers and officials from Clark, Garland and Hot Spring Counties.
According to Tandee White, PCED, community development program manager with Entergy Business Development, noted regionalism is important because it allows different regions to build upon the strengths of one another.
“Your unique characteristics will help all of the partners become one stronger team than you will ever be individually,” White said.
White described regionalism as an opportunity to pool resources, people and dollars, as well as a chance for each individual community to build upon one another.
“We need people to do different things that are unique to help build our region,” said White, who noted the economy is global.
“When we are talking about prospects and economic development attraction, companies are not looking to necessarily locate in Arkadelphia, but they are looking at the land, maybe, in that geographic location. The services and the labor shed will sell that to a company,” White explained.
In addition, White noted it is important for regions to sell the area and its amenities to the workers.
White listed education specialization, opportunities for specialization, a larger talent pool, shared services and greater opportunities for quality of life amenities are the benefits of regionalism.
On the other hand, time, effort, communication and planning are some of the challenges to regionalism.
Cody Slater, community development regional manager with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, stated organization is important to insure the success of regional collaboration.
According to Slater, regionalism starts with one community. Growth in one community will yield growth in a region and the state.
While Slater noted there is nothing wrong with individual communities competing with one another, he reported there are benefits to communities working together.
“Every community has to be on the same page,” Slater said.
Referring the acquisition of Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Blue Springs, Miss., Slater said economic development is not quick and that patience and persistence is required. Slater also reported that small communities cannot pull off large projects without working with other communities.