Harris makes survey pitch at Hope Lions Club luncheon

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
Before a near capacity gathering at the Hope Lions luncheon on Monday, Hempstead EDC Executive Director Steve Harris with spirited assists from both Hope Mayor Steve Montgomery and District 6 Justice Steve Atchley made their collective pitch advocating for participation in the ongoing the community-wide AEDI survey.
Harris updated the crowd, saying 675 completed surveys were currently collected, moving the number a bit from a week ago when Harris said approximately 550 were completed.
“We still have some paper ones out, and we anticipate groups going out into the community and schools. For those who do the survey electronically, it will count automatically; for those doing a paper survey, they can turn it in to my office or City Hall, where it can be forwarded to the state office at AEDI,” Harris said.
The planned survey deadline now looms one week away, Monday, March 11, and the target number is still approximately 1,000 or better. Harris again confirmed the subsequent survey results meeting scheduled at Hempstead Hall for Tuesday, March 26 at 5:30 p.m.
Hope Mayor Steve Montgomery, who has been intimately involved in the project, was also present at Monday’s luncheon. He stressed, and even at times, pleaded for participation.
“This is important, not only to Hope, but to Hempstead County. It is important that all groups have the opportunity to be heard,” Montgomery said.
The online link to participate in AEDI survey from a personal computer or other online device can be directly accessed here at:
Atchley said that industries and recruitment groups come to Hope all the time, and the effort would present the community in a positive light.  Both Atchley and Montgomery are also members of the Hope Lions Club.
“I think the level of community involvement was the overriding thing there, and presenting a positive public image for our community was the other takeaway there. There are positive things we can do, but we’ve got to everyone’s input, and the work it out in the next six to nine months,” Harris said.
Harris also spoke in more detail on similar efforts in DeQueen and Pine Bluff.
“In Pine Bluff, one of the bigger things they did was to establish an Innovative Hub downtown; a lot of their focus was to rebuild their downtown. The Innovative Hub is getting close to being up and running and will help small businesses and new businesses get started,” he said.
“Now DeQueen, one of their big takeaways was the tourism area, with the natural resources, so that could have some overlap with us. Typically, the committees have been economic development, tourism, quality of life, downtown revitalization. Task forces delving into those areas will try to make recommendations for Hope and Hempstead County,” he said.
“We are in the participation phase now, and we just need to get everybody to fill out a survey, and then we’ll meet on March 26 at Hempstead Hall for the community-wide meeting and the AEDI will present the results and their statistical review of Hope,” Harris said.
Harris added “That is also an interactive community meeting about what are our strengths and weaknesses and what areas do we need to focus on. That is going to be a very interesting meeting, and we want to get everyone to come.”

Hope Mayor Steve Montgomery, who was also at the Lions luncheon, makes an emotional appeal to participation in the survey. (Rick Kennedy photo)
A near capacity crowd showed up Monday for the Hope Lions Club luncheon. (Rick Kennedy photo)
After the program. the Hope Lions Club also had some fun with a mini Lions Auction at the end. (Rick Kennedy photo)

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