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.
Raise your hand if you still prefer a city street map. You know, the now old-fashioned paper kind that you hold in your hands. And unfold, and unfold and unfold until you can find where you are, as opposed to where you need to be.
The kind that lets you see the entire city limits at one time — or the far reaches of the county — so you can visualize the easiest route from Point A to Point B. Or find the place you didn't know existed until you had an appointment that had an unknown street's name in the address.
The topic of street maps comes to mind because a visitor walked into the Alliance & Chamber offices recently looking for one of those “real” city maps. He had just driven all over town in search of a certain eastside roadway. Initially, he had relied confidently on his car's GPS. No luck. Then he actually stopped and asked directions. Helpful advice, but still no luck. The logical next option: go to the Chamber of Commerce for a detailed street map.
Three Alliance staff members happened to be in the reception area when this visitor came in asking about the exact location of his destination. Eager to be of assistance, they unfolded two different older map versions (and accessed a cell phone app), and the search was on.
As it turned out, the street being sought on the east side didn't appear to exist (no wonder he was having trouble locating it). If the street actually has a “West” in its name instead of “East,” it's only one block long. And, as the saying goes, “You can't get there from here.” At least not without extensive directions or a city street map. He left with a new set of directions and a determined attitude. Paper maps still come in handy.
Speaking of maps, it's been nearly a decade since the Chamber coordinated with a cartographic company to produce a new, all-inclusive Pine Bluff/Jefferson County street map. But a new one is being finalized and should be ready for distribution by early 2018, if not before.
Staff members — and visitors and business prospects — soon will have an updated version of a long-established, community visual aid. New streets added in the past 10 years will be identified. Current bus routes will be marked. New tourist attractions will be noted. Our expanded college campuses will be illustrated. Parcel delivery drivers will be able to find your new home “out in the country.”
And those who continue favoring paper maps will be able to stop taping their old ones back together.
Raise your hand if you remember when a map's designated spot in a vehicle was its passenger-side glove box.