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.


Weeks later, the May-June 2019 flooding along the Arkansas River still dominates the conversation when members of river organizations meet.


Board members of the Arkansas Waterways Association (AWA) held their quarterly meeting July 22 in Little Rock and worked toward finalizing plans for AWA’s annual fall membership conference scheduled for early November.


The Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Port Authority is a long-time member of AWA, which exists to unite public and private support and advocate for all the state’s navigable waterways. The port authority’s executive director, Lou Ann Nisbett, serves as vice president for the association.


Nisbett attended last week’s AWA board meeting and participated as the group discussed the line-up of speakers for the conference, nailed down the venue for the opening reception, and heard confirmation of the event’s planned meeting location.


Conversation inevitably turned to the recent flooding and how the high water continues to have a negative impact on ports and terminals along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.


Several of the member-organizations of AWA and other river-related groups are among the businesses in Oklahoma and Arkansas dealing with the flood’s aftermath.


It was reported at the meeting that another river-related membership organization plans to cancel its August conference because some of its members are totally “swamped” with the daunting cleanup. AWA’s board decided to extend an invitation to that group’s available members to attend AWA’s November conference instead.


Even then, months from now, the conversation probably will still include flooding updates.