Go Forward Pine Bluff is hosting a listening event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. tonight at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Events will also be held on Wednesday and Thursday evenings as well — same time, same location. Organizers say the events are a way for residents to offer input into the Go Forward program and have their questions answered by Go Forward officials.
According to the Go Forward Pine Bluff’s Facebook page, “this will be your opportunity to provide thoughts on what your vision for downtown Pine Bluff and the surrounding neighborhoods is that will lend itself to revitalization.
“The sessions will be focused on five questions and you will have the opportunity to discuss these with representatives of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, GFPB staff and volunteers, and members of the Arkansas Economic Development Institute.”
The five-eighths cent Go Forward Pine Bluff sales tax will begin collections on Oct. 1, with the money becoming available to spend on projects on Jan. 1, 2018. Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward, said in a news release that “Go Forward Pine Bluff, Inc. is excited citizens have remained engaged post the overwhelming passing of the five-eighths cent sales tax necessary to fund the proposed initiatives. Subsequently, we have begun transitioning to the execution phase. This involves a great deal of internal development; however, we remain committed to transparency and public relations.”
The news release continued:
“We estimate the first quarterly receipt will be $1.1 million with approximate monthly receipts of $365,000, totaling of 4.4 million annually. A new city fund and bank account will be established for GFPB sales tax receipts and appropriation of those funds will be requested by GFPB leadership and approved by the City Council for each initiative. Donations through the GFPB corporation are more difficult to project. However, we expect to receive approximately $1 million per year.”
Watley said in the news release that the flow of resources may be accelerated or slowed depending on the project in which dollars are pledged.
“An accelerated example is the naming rights opportunity relative to the proposed Downtown Square,” the news release said. “This will play an integral part in the effort to make downtown a place of destination. Grant funded initiatives are subject to the submission, review, and award period and will therefore occur at a much slower rate. As a matter of fact, GFPB partnered with Economic and Community Development to submit a proposal to the Delta Regional Authority on July 5, and are now awaiting the review.
“All together, we will execute capital-intensive projects as dollars are available. GFPB Inc. has currently contracted with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center to develop the Vision for Downtown Pine Bluff. Mayor Washington, GFPB leadership, and consultants from the Arkansas Economic Development Institute attended a day’s planning session at the Community Design P. O. Box 6316, Pine Bluff, AR, 71611-6316 870-541-1196 Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“A majority of the day was spent evaluating computer-generated models of Pine Bluff and discussed numerous thoughts, hopes, wishes, and dreams about our community.
“We remain committed to providing quarterly progress reports via the Pine Bluff Commercial beginning in January, and will provide significant updates on our website and social media. We want to once again thank our citizens for providing an overwhelming YES vote relative to our tax initiative and for the ‘Citizens Plan.’”