By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
With the announcement and launch of AEDI/Hempstead EDC community survey — live links are available now — including in this story — the ambitious community-wide undertaking for a five-year strategic plan has an interesting sidebar as one of the AEDI principals, April Campbell, has a unique vantage point.
“I am really pulling for Hempstead County on this one; I have some skin in the game. I still have family in the area. I want a good home for my relatives,” Campbell said in an interview Thursday afternoon with SWARK Today.
Friday, the live link to the survey was released and can be publicly accessed directly here at:
Among the list of surveys, Campbell said to choose the Hempstead County survey.
Campbell was born in Hope, and she graduated in nearby Prescott, a member of the Curley Wolf Class of 2001, not too long ago. Campbell’s local influence also includes graduating from UA Hope in 2003, before moving on with a four-year degree from UA Fayetteville, and eventually, her MBA from UALR in 2009.
Her background includes working within former Governor Mike Beebe’s administration as well as her current AEDI work with such towns as Pine Bluff, DeQueen, and even, Little Rock itself.
“I still come back to the area every few weeks; Hempstead and Nevada are still home to me,” she said, “So, this project is really important to me.”
Campbell is one part of the puzzle in the genesis of the going project announced days ago at the Hempstead EDC office; one of the other originating advocates is none other than Hope Mayor Steve Montgomery, who is also known as the owner of several McDonald’s restaurants in the southwest Arkansas region, including one in DeQueen.
“We had been working with Sevier County and DeQueen much of 2018, and Steve has that McDonald’s up there. He had come to one of the meetings during their task force phase. He was interested enough to want us to look at Hope and Hempstead County,” Campbell recalled.
Campbell said that while Sevier County was looking at the survey project for data and information, she said Montgomery aspired for a more involved five-year plan.
“What we are doing here will take a different shape than DeQueen; this will be more information and more involved,” she said.
Currently, with the survey link now live as of now, Campbell said the active survey time is now 21 days and counting.
“We want this done by the end of the month; we want as many people to take it as possible, but it needs to be done in the next three weeks. We want to assemble the data and present a report to the community by the week of March 11,” she said.
After the survey results are analyzed and unveiled, Campbell said the next step will be formation of five or six community tasks forces as was discussed at Tuesday’s special Hempstead EDC meeting.
The task forces will accept applications for membership, and then, will subsequently meet regularly throughout the year. Campbell said AEDI’s goal will be to help facilitate the process, which will eventually lead to specific community goals and a five-year strategic plan.
“How the community chooses to follow up on those goals, and the plan that it develops, is up to the community. Some communities, like Pine Bluff, have raised funds and formed 501c3 organizations; others like DeQueen have existing personnel in place,” she said.
Whatever the outcome, Campbell said she is confident that Hope and Hempstead County will follow up on the effort.
“I think with a big community buy-in and participation in the process that something good will come out of it. Both Steve Harris and Steve Montgomery seem committed to that process and having something come out of it,” she said.
The live online survey link is:
Choose Hempstead County in the selections.