We are all blessed to live in a region of the state that has such an abundance of good people, thriving businesses, strong communities, and natural resources.
As the hub of Central Arkansas, Little Rock can and should play a key role in promoting cooperation and collaboration at all levels of government to improve the lives of everyone in our region. This is not a novel idea. Most successful cities around the country embrace a cooperative regional mindset, particularly around ways to bolster economic opportunity.
This sort of mutually beneficial regional cooperation has been lacking. I’ve had conversations with elected officials at all levels – from the federal, state, and county governments – and it’s clear that regional coordination, cooperation, and outreach by the city of Little Rock has not been a priority. As mayor, I will change that by articulating priorities and formulating a concrete policy agenda. As the largest city in the state, Little Rock’s success is critical to the region’s success; if our economy isn’t thriving, it has ripple effects across the region. For too long, Little Rock’s lack of vision and leadership has been an impediment to progress throughout the region. We must show we want to be a good partner and that we want to work collaboratively to lift the state, city, and county together.
But this isn’t simply a matter of Little Rock dictating what’s best for the region. I would work with our partners throughout Central Arkansas to have a clear and defined strategy. That would not only help us coordinate our efforts in an efficient way, it would also give us the leverage that comes with speaking with one voice when communicating with our U.S. congressman, senators, and state officials.
An excellent example of the benefits of regional collaboration can be seen in Northwest Arkansas. In the early 1990s the region formed the NWA Council, a combination of government, business, and philanthropic organizations to outline future goals and strategy to achieve them. Collectively, they worked to figure out the region’s needs in terms of infrastructure, amenities, and businesses. The shared vision was critical in giving private investors confidence in their strategy. The result obviously speaks for itself.