Van Buren mayor, chamber working with consulting firm on economic growth plan

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 540 views 

The Van Buren Chamber of Commerce and the city of Van Buren are working with Community  Growth Strategies of Columbia, Mo., to help grow the economy in the city and surrounding area.

Community Growth Strategies (CGS) is a consulting firm that helps communities design achievable action plans for community development and economic growth. The action plans for economic growth it helps develop contain “the tactics, or action steps, to accommodate, facilitate, and encourage economic growth,” its website states.

“We fully understand the need for an achievable plan of action even in those communities and organizations with limited resources, challenging locations or other monumental challenges,” noted the website.

Van Buren Mayor Joe Hurst said when city leaders learned of the opportunity to work with Jim Fram and Community Growth Strategies, they wanted to take advantage of it.

“Jim has a great track record of assisting communities with creating reasonable, achievable, and effective economic development actions plans,” Hurst said.

The city and the chamber hosted a communitywide meeting Sept. 2 at the King Opera House, facilitated by Jim Fram of CGS, to gather input from anyone willing to participate. More than 50 people attended to provide creative ideas and suggestions for future growth, the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce said in a news release. The meeting was part of a week of meetings Fram had with key stakeholders, including community leaders and business owners, said Julie Murray, president and CEO of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce.

CGS said in a Facebook post that Van Buren enjoys “great potential for economic growth.”

“The Arkansas River, Interstate 40, rail, and the large industrial park added to quality living can spell economic opportunity,” the post said of Van Buren.

Fram said Van Buren’s action plan will include action steps for the chamber and the community to take towards economic growth based on the community meeting, interviews with political, community and business leaders and demographic data.

“Those plans don’t need to sit on a shelf and gather dust, and Jim’s group will help us achieve that. If we want to continue moving Van Buren forward, public engagement is essential,” Hurst said. “This economic development plan relies on gauging public input about Van Buren’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The first public meeting we had recently was a great start, and I’m looking forward to continuing the process.”

The economic growth action plan project is funded by grants received from: Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative, Wave Rural Connect, Arvest Foundation, Walmart Foundation, Murray said. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Fram said the rollout of the plan would be in a community public meeting.

Fram is a Certified Economic Developer and a Certified Chamber Executive experienced in working with large and small communities as well as with site selection consultants in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

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