LITTLE ROCK – Community and economic development often requires hard work, creativity and investments of both time and money. But focusing those efforts in effective, strategic ways is often fundamental to conquering even the most herculean of tasks, experts say.


Community leaders in Brookfield, Mo., have been very creative in bringing their community back from very difficult circumstances, and on Wednesday, June 6, Arkansas community leaders will have the opportunity to learn how it was done at the 2018 Breakthrough Solutions Pre-Conference Workshop at Little Rock.


Becky Cleveland, executive director of Brookfield Area Growth Partnership, will describe the six key elements of their turn-around strategy to bring their community back.


“In one year’s time, a company’s building burned down, so they moved to a neighboring community; our 100-year-old theater roof collapsed, and had to be torn down, and another employer with 250 jobs pulled out. It was just horrible,” Cleveland said. “The downtown was falling in and we didn’t have any jobs. We knew we had to take action.”


The theme of the workshop is “Turn Around Communities in the 21st Century,” and will include a panel of Arkansas community leaders identifying turn-around strategies and experiences, plus a challenge from community leaders in Mountain Home. Workshop participants will develop turn-around strategies to address five key challenges facing the Mountain Home community.


“The insights we will learn from Ms. Cleveland, our panel, and the challenges facing the Mountain Home community will be invaluable learning experience for communities all across Arkansas,” said Mark Peterson, professor of community and economic development with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service.


The Breakthrough Solutions Conference follows on Thursday, June 7, with the theme “Strengthening the Opportunity Pipeline for Community/Region.” Both the workshop and conference will take place at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension headquarters at 2301 S. University Ave., Little Rock.


Early bird registration ends May 24. Visit www.bit.ly/BTSConference2018 to register. Email breakthroughsolutions@uaex.edu or call 501-671-2253 for details.


To learn about community and economic development in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu.


— Ryan McGeeney is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.