Fort Smith Locals Brainstorm Economic Development

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Groups from all over Fort Smith came together looking at ways to boost economic growth and development in the area. Those who attended a meeting (July 30) at the Cavanaugh Senior Center said creating jobs in the area is a concern.

"Jobs, you know good quality jobs that kind of replace the manufacturing base because the manufacturing base is fading away in Fort Smith,” said Fort Smith resident Rocky Walker.

Those at the meeting said things like more development on the River Front, downtown area, Interstate 49 construction, water parks and more Fort Smith parks are a must for the community.

"We will read every chart on every page that they write,” said Fort Smith city director Philip Merry. “They are having a direct laser beam hit to turning the course of the future, so this thing in here tonight is huge."

Merry said he wants to see more young professionals come to town.

"We need young professionals to come and be involved and shape this change because in seven years they are going to lead and run this town," said Merry.

A woman who just moved to Fort Smith from New Orleans, LA for a job at Mercy Fort Smith said she saw Fort Smith as an opportunity. She said she'd like to see more local monuments preserved.

"Trying to take care of historical sites,” said Rose Guy-Sibley. “Trying to keep a balanced standard of cost of living and keeping up facilities that already exist, sewage in the water and various thinks like keeping the city vibrant."

Out of town consultants were at the meeting, they plan to take what they heard, analyze it and discuss it with Fort Smith city directors. The meetings kicked off last week. Another meeting is set for Thursday evening, (Aug. 1) at Ramsey Junior High.