State Economic Development Website In Works


Sasha Grist

By John Lovett
Times Record •

Arkansas will become one of the first states in the country to have a web-based comprehensive economic development strategy.

At the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District board of directors meeting Thursday, Jim Youngquist told local county officials the website will be ready by April and will provide quick access to valuable demographic data of all 75 counties. Youngquist is executive director of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute for Economic Advancement.

“It will be good to have that available for population counts and economic data,” said Amanda Moses, financial officer for WAPDD.

The website also will aid in recruiting businesses, and help the state’s eight planning districts coordinate economic development efforts. Fewer than five states in the country have this sort of website, said Tonya Hass, UALR’s economic development liaison.

Examples of the information in demographic data include information on the workforce, housing, available building sites, and schools. By the end of February or early March, a beta site will be accessible to members of the state’s planning districts for input. Building sites are being added in conjunction with Entergy in a “wrapper” site to keep the information seamless, Hass said.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce helped fund the project, along with Entergy.

Creating better access to broadband access was the No. 1 issue in an institute survey, beating out road improvement for the first time in such a survey, Youngquist said.

While most of the ideas passed on in the survey were received well, such as completion of Interstate 49 and protection of watersheds and aquifer recharge areas, the notion of a Rural Planning Organization to perform transportation planning did not sit well with at least two county judges. Scott County Judge James Forbes and Crawford County Judge John Hall said the issue of county roads is constitutional.

Youngquist said the wording would be specific and would give county judges “even more say and input” with the state on county roads. Hass said the RPO would also serve as a funneling agent for federal money.

Working with all of the county officials, from mayors and county judges to business leaders will be a new interim executive director of the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District. Sasha Grist will take over for John Guthrie as the executive director in July. She has served as the assistant executive director and has an extensive background in emergency management.

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Welcome to the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District website. Established in 1966 as a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation, WAPDD serves the western Arkansas six-county area of Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Polk, Scott and Sebastian. Our organization's name reflects what we do -- assist western Arkansas communities with the planning for and development of local and regional programs and projects.

Working closely with city and county governments, WAPDD offers an array of technical assistance and management services. These relate to community and economic development, census information and population data, 911 mapping and addressing, utilities mapping, geographic information system services, work force development, and transportation planning.


Take a Video Tour of Western Arkansas Planning and Development District.

Click here to begin the video tour..



WAPDD Board Meetings

  • March 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm - Fort Smith Riverfront Events Building, West Room
  • June 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm - Fort Smith Riverfront Events Building, West Room
  • September 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm - Riverfront Events Building, West Room
  • December 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm - Riverfront Events Building, West Room


Crawford County Saferoom Registration Form - Voluntary Program

Crawford County and WAPDD will be working together to complete a Saferoom Project over the next few months.  Fieldworkers will be in your area and will be using GPS to locate your saferoom/stormshelter.  This data will not be distributed to the public and will only be used in the case of a tornadic event to help Emergency Service Personnel locate you or others that have taken shelter in your  saferoom/stormshelter. 

If you would like to provide additional information, have questions or do not wish to participate in this project, please call (479)785-2651. You may also register your saferoom/stormshelter by completing and submitting the form below. 




General Improvement Fund Application

Click here to view and print the application.



Request for Public Comments

For the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
The Western Arkansas Planning and Development District (WAPDD) has completed a draft of the updated Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for western Arkansas.  The CEDS is used as a guide for economic development decisions in western Arkansas (counties of Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Polk, Scott, and Sebastian).  The document contains a profile of the region’s economy, including strengths and weaknesses, as well as goals and strategies.  There is also a listing of vital economic development projects and performance measures to gauge of the effectiveness of the CEDS.  
A thirty (30) day public comment review period is required prior to adoption and submittal of the updated CEDS to the United States Department of Economic Development Administration (EDA).
PUBLICATION:  The draft 2014-2019 CEDS report is available for review at this link: CEDS Report.  For hard copies, please email or call 479-785-2651. 
DATE AND TIME: The public comment period for the CEDS is Monday, March 16, 2015 through April 14, 2015. 
COMMENTS:   Comments should be received no later than Tuesday, April 14, 2015 by 5:00 p.m.   All comments may be submitted either by email at, via fax at 479-785-1964, or by mail to WAPDD, PO Box 2067, Fort Smith, AR 72902.




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