A makeover for Pine Bluff’s Main Street is in the works (see Main Street’s New Beginnings), thanks to a Simmons Foundation-funded task force. Following the collapse of a few buildings in 2014 and 2015, the City of Pine Bluff and Simmons First National Bank began planning the revitalization of the city, particularly the downtown corridor. In addition to offering low-cost loans and other assistance, Simmons First National Bank made a donation to the Simmons Foundation for the purpose of funding a task force devoted to the city’s revitalization and growth, with a special eye toward increasing the tax base.
That task force, Go Forward Pine Bluff, organized its steering committees into four major areas: economic development, education, infrastructure, and quality of life. Wow, it goes further than just Main Street. So, what started as the decline of Main Street precipitated this monumental effort. Indeed, future posts will share more about Go Forward Pine Bluff’s work, and they will undoubtedly cover more than just Main Street. But back to Main Street and Go Forward Pine Bluff’s inception …
One of the first steps taken by Go Forward Pine Buff was to hire consultants at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), Institute for Economic Advancement (IEA). For over a year (at the time of this post), IEA’s consultants have been researching Pine Bluff’s strengths and needs in the four major areas targeted by Go Forward Pine Bluff. And wow, have they made some progress, based on the looks of their web page that lists reports they have produced. I have to share a caveat, though; the IEA reports web page apparently is restricted and requires log-in; I am under the impression that the log-in is for task force members. But if I learn otherwise, I will post an update. In the meantime, if you know anything about these reports or, more generally, the progress made by Go Forward Pine Bluff, please let me know by posting a comment or starting a discussion thread through this web site’s PB Junction Forum.