Editor’s Note: “The Economic Development Side” originally appears in the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce’s weekly member e-newsletter. It is written by Rhonda Dishner, the Economic Development Alliance’s executive assistant.


Face it! You really miss the old hometown.


You once lived in Pine Bluff but moved away in retirement. Or to be closer to the children and grandchildren. Or to take a new job. Or just to experience life in a bigger city elsewhere.


We get it. You moved away. It was the right decision at the time. But situations may have changed. Perhaps you’ve been thinking fondly of the “old days” in Pine Bluff and those good friends and neighbors.


Sadly, an ever-expanding circle of those favorite souls are gone from all of us because time marches on, and death was unavoidable. But many of us are still here and missing you. Some folks are even choosing to spend their retirement years in Pine Bluff. Or are joyfully welcoming back their children who, although they went away to college and careers, are beginning to return and re-populate our city. And we would also welcome you back.


We acknowledge that you could have doubts about that suggestion. Over the past few years, our civic pride has taken a number of serious hits from widely circulated preconceived notions and negative perceptions.


OK. Crime WAS a real problem for a spell, but isn’t that the case just about everywhere these days? And have you heard and actually absorbed the news that the problem is now greatly diminished?


OK. Some dilapidated buildings on Main Street fell down, but they also do that in other cities too. The “main” thing to note now is that the rubble has been swept away and Main Street is open again. In their place are spaces that can be home to new buildings or parking for businesses that WILL chose to locate or relocate in downtown.


OK. Pine Bluff’s population has declined the past two decades, but that’s happening in rural and delta counties across south and east Arkansas. And before it was declining, it was growing steadily; it CAN do so again.


Pine Bluff needs you. You don’t have to decide immediately. Just think about it. After all, winters are milder down here in LA (Lower Arkansas). There’s hardly any traffic congestion, and the daily commute to work takes about 10 or 15 minutes. Levees, thankfully, protect our city from inundation. And remember that beautiful house on the spacious corner lot that you always admired; it may be on the market at an “improved” price.


Come back. If not permanently, at least come for a visit sometime. See those old friends. Hear about the positive developments. Feel the momentum rising. Spend a few dollars to help generate sales tax revenue!


The paragraphs above comprise an “open letter” to former residents. These closing thoughts are for current residents. Our city is rapidly gearing up to move forward AGAIN. A special election will be held June 13 for Pine Bluff voters to decide on a proposed five-eighths-cent sales tax in support of the Go Forward Pine Bluff improvement plan. Our city needs this revival. For us and those who WILL be coming.


Investors from out of town, out of state, and outside the country are spending millions of dollars here because they believe in our community’s future. Surely, we can put in a few pennies a day for a few years to help with Pine Bluff’s undoubted comeback.