The Van Buren Chamber of Commerce and the City of Van Buren are working with Community Growth Strategies of Columbia, Mo., to help develop the economy in the city and surrounding areas.
Community Growth Strategies (CGS) is a consulting firm that helps communities design workable action plans for community development and economic growth. The economic growth action plans it helps develop contain “the tactics, or action steps, to welcome, facilitate and encourage economic growth,” its website says.
“We fully understand the need for a workable plan of action, even in communities and organizations with limited resources, difficult locations or other monumental challenges,” the website noted.
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.
âJim has excellent experience helping communities create reasonable, achievable and effective economic development action plans,â said Hurst.
The city and the chamber hosted a community-wide meeting on September 2 at the King Opera House, hosted by Jim Fram of CGS, to get feedback from anyone who wants 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 press release. The meeting was part of a week of meetings that 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 has “great potential for economic growth.”
âThe Arkansas River, Interstate 40, the railroad and the large industrial park added to the quality of life can create economic opportunities,â the post said about Van Buren.
Fram said Van Buren’s action plan will include actions for the chamber and community to take towards economic growth based on the community meeting, interviews with political, community and business leaders, and demographics.
âThese plans don’t have to sit on a shelf and pick up the dust, and Jim’s group will help us make it happen. If we are to continue to move Van Buren forward, public engagement is essential, âsaid Hurst. âThis economic development plan is based on the assessment of public comments on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of Van Buren. The first public meeting we had recently was a good start, and I look 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 should be completed by the end of the year. Fram said the plan will be rolled out at a community public meeting.
Fram is a Certified Business Developer and Certified Chamber Executive experienced in working with large and small communities as well as site selection consultants in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.