Revitalizing Downtown Jonesboro08/05/2016
Last month, I took my second international trade mission to Europe as governor to tell Arkansas’s story on the global stage. It’s exciting to talk about the state’s economic development, job growth, computer coding initiative and natural beauty, but what I really enjoy is telling the stories of Arkansans at the local level.
Every part of Arkansas has a story to tell, and some of the best stories are about people who work and live for the people in their community. The Downtown Jonesboro Association, a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing the downtown scene, has worked to offer resources and programs to improve the quality of life for Jonesboro’s citizens and businesses downtown.
From art murals created by A-State University students to the nationally accredited “Main Street” program, the Downtown Jonesboro Association is making its mark on Northeast Arkansas. The nonprofit received six statewide awards last year from the Main Street Arkansas program for recent projects and for the creation of the signature street market event, “Alive after Five.” This emerging program is comprised of local farmers, bakers, musicians and shops, and attracts more than 500 visitors each month.
The Downtown Jonesboro Association has also helped create 87 new jobs through business recruitment last year, bringing the total number of new businesses in the downtown area to 17 – and this year, they’ve already seen six more businesses open their doors.
In June, the Downtown Jonesboro Association came to Central Arkansas to accept an Arkansas Historic Preservation grant of $15,000 to go toward building improvement, downtown parking, public art initiatives and more. In essence, these funds will go directly back into the community – making downtown Jonesboro an even more vibrant place to live, work and play.
In the words of the Downtown Jonesboro Association’s Executive Director, Hailey Knight, “Since 2000, local community members and stakeholders have worked continuously to improve our streetscape, recruit businesses and rehabilitate buildings – all helping to promote the area as the ultimate destination place for Northeast Arkansas.”
There’s a lot of reasons to love Arkansas, and small town stories that have a big impact are some of the greatest examples. If you’re wanting to take a weekend trip before summer ends, consider visiting places like Jonesboro. And if your story takes you there, use the Twitter hashtag #WeAreDowntowners to share your experience with others.