I was on a hay ride in the middle of a pumpkin patch in central Arkansas when my husband, Chad, called to tell me he had just accepted a job in Jonesboro. I was excited, of course, but also leery of what our future might look like in northeast Arkansas.
Where would I work? Where would we find childcare for our two little ones, then ages 3 and 1? What kind of community activities were available for families like ours? Were we giving up the quality of life we currently had?
Chad and I met in our first class of our freshman year at Arkansas State and began dating a few months later. We married after graduation and moved to Little Rock. We did not think twice about leaving Jonesboro, as the move to Little Rock felt smarter. There was more opportunity, more things to do.
Fast forward eight years to when we made the choice to move back to the city that had been our home for four years in college. We were completely surprised by the new Jonesboro we found. There were so many local restaurants, so many well-kept parks, and so many great schools. Healthcare had been a concern of mine, as I worked at Arkansas Children’s Hospital before our move. Jonesboro had two hospitals with great reputations, so that was certainly a relief to us.
The Saturday after we moved to town, we left behind the piles of boxes and made our way to Craighead Forest Park. The play areas, the greenery, the trails — we were in love. The next week, we went to dinner at Skinny J’s and watched a Foundation of the Arts play at the Forum. It did not take long for us to look at each other and agree, “This is home.”
Our story is not unique. Every year, I visit with individuals and families like ours who have moved here. Jonesboro is a place where people want to raise their families.
But why? What could Jonesboro possibly offer that compares to other areas of the state?
Fast-paced growth: When we were in college, there was a movie theater, a few restaurants, and that was it. Today, the city boasts many local restaurants serving amazing food, as well as tons of options for shopping and other activities. And the city continues to attract new, exciting businesses.
Community: I’ve never seen a community more willing to come together to support nonprofit groups and organizations so wholeheartedly. It is incredible to see and experience. Jonesboro has a small-town feel, where people genuinely care about others, and it’s so refreshing.
Healthcare: Now, I have to admit I’m biased here as I handle media relations for St. Bernards Healthcare, but I am thoroughly impressed by all aspects of healthcare in Jonesboro. Cancer, neurosurgery, heart care, pediatrics — you are getting the best of the best right here.
Education: There is no bad school district in Jonesboro. We spent many hours weighing which one to send our children to, only because they were all so great. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the education my children are receiving.
While quality of life in Jonesboro is good, I certainly see areas of opportunity for improvement. We still visit other cities for water park excursions, museums and other arts and entertainment options. Public safety is also a top priority for us, so we want to ensure those programs get the funding they need.
No matter what, we are happy here. On many weekends, you will find my family at Craighead Forest Park walking or riding our bikes, at Joe Mack Campbell Park playing soccer or visiting the ASU Regional Farmer’s Market.
If I could go back and tell that girl on the hay ride one thing, it would be to trust the choice you are making — Jonesboro is home.
Editor’s note: Kila Owens is the Media Relations Manager at St. Bernards Healthcare. She can be reached at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.