In 2014, the Center for Community and Economic Development at the University of Central Arkansas chose Paris as the community it would work with that year. The project resulted in the formation of what is called the Paris Action Plan.
In May, the progress made by the city on the action plan was featured in an article in City and Town, the official publication of the Arkansas Municipal League. Information and comments were gathered from Paris Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tonya Baumgartner and Dr. Lee Lane of Paris, one of the people involved in the effort that resulted in the action plan.
The two-page article states that of the 87 goals outlined in the plan, 18 or 22 percent have been completed in the last four years, 56 or 64 percent were in progress and 12, about 14 percent, haven’t been started or are no longer applicable. The article states that with 86 percent of the projects completed or in progress, Paris “has become an emerging community in the state of Arkansas. Many peer communities of Paris now look to them as a guide in their development efforts.”
“That’s high praise for Paris and it’s an honor for them to focus the economic development section of the magazine on Paris,” Baumgartner said.
Accomplishments in Paris cited in the article include completion of the Tyson Foods Logan County Career Center, efforts to reinvigorate the downtown section of the city by the Paris Merchants Association and through membership in the Arkansas Main Street Program, development of the Eiffel Tower Park on Courthouse Square, branding and marketing efforts and the fact the city was designated a 2017 Tourism Trendsetter City, among others.
“They sent a 20-page questionnaire asking about progress on our action plan,” Baumgartner said. “The plan sets five year and 10 year goals. I look at the plan every six months or so to see where we are. We’ve hit so many of our goals. I feel really good about the plan.”
Recognizing success in Paris isn’t confined to the magazine article, either.
Baumgartner said she has been asked to speak about programs in Paris, especially downtown revitalization, at two meetings in June.
Baumgartner will speak at the Breakthrough Conference in Little Rock on June 7. The conference is sponsored by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. She has also been asked to speak at the Brownfield Workshop on June 22 hosted by the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District.