As you’ve probably already seen, page one of today’s newspaper contains some not-so-great news about Pine Bluff. It pains us to report that our area’s population has lost 10,000 folks over the past decade. But it’s our job.

Anytime stories such as this one hit the front page, there are people who claim that we enjoy spreading “bad news” about this city.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We can assure you that no entity in this town is a bigger champion of Pine Bluff than we are. But sometimes the curtain has to come up, and the mess on the front porch has to be shown to the world. While on one hand we must report the news (good or bad) we also work to help build up Pine Bluff with positive news and features about people who are doing great things here.

That said, let’s dig a bit into the issue at hand: population loss.

We spoke with Caleb McMahon, who is the head economist for the Economic Development Alliance in Jefferson County, about it. He said that attracting industries and, thus, attracting workers who are on the payrolls of said industries, to our city has been a difficult task over the past decade due to quality of life issues.

We know that to be true, and it’s certainly no secret to most anyone who lives here.

The thing is, we have a plan. It’s called Go Forward Pine Bluff. Every single initiative in the five-eighths cent economic development sales tax plan has to do with lifting up our area’s quality of life. That’s why it’s so vital to support it by becoming more involved in the inner workings of our community.

Time and time again, we hear folks whining and complaining about “how bad things are” in Pine Bluff. Well, you are either working toward making things better or you are not. Those who are not are the ones who seem to be complaining the most.

More than anything, what’s tearing down Pine Bluff’s reputation is people who talk trash about the city to anyone who will listen. On Wednesday, during a Facebook live event with downtown business owner and entrepreneur Wil Jenkins, someone commented, “Why would I want to go to Pine Bluff when Little Rock is just an hour away?”

What’s the point of such a comment? If you feel Pine Bluff has nothing for you, work together with those who are trying to make this a better place instead of running your mouth and complaining about our city. We care. We want things to change. If you don’t, then stop ruining our reputation by keeping the negative talk about our community to yourself.

There are ways to express an opinion without trashing Pine Bluff. We aren’t saying that folks shouldn’t have the right to express themselves. Just do it in an intelligent way, and be mindful that comments and opinions can make or break a fragile reputation such as Pine Bluff’s.

If we want to stop the population bleed, we must all work together to make our community warm and inviting. Folks like Mr. Jenkins, Ryan Watley, who heads Go Forward Pine Bluff, Joy Blankenship, executive director of downtown development, and too many others to name would be happy to work with anyone who is willing to help make Pine Bluff more attractive to potential new residents.

Do your part. Stop the negative talk, roll up your sleeves, and work to make our city the best it can be.