Western Arkansas Planning and Development District

Western Arkansas Planning and Development District (WAPDD) is a multicounty regional economic organization established in 1966 to assist western Arkansas communities, mostly within rural areas, with the planning for and development of local and regional projects. Western Arkansas has a rich history in coal mining and timber production. Franklin County is the site of one of the first oil strikes in Arkansas and also has many wineries, the Cherokee Prairie, and a vast array of Ozark Highland Trails. Logan County is home to some of the oldest settlements in western Arkansas as well as the Mount Magazine State Park, the highest elevation in Arkansas at 2,760 feet. Crawford County has the historic King Opera House and many sites of historic preservation in downtown Van Buren. Polk and Scott Counties contain the Ouachita National Forest. Sebastian County is home to two National Guard Bases: Fort Chaffee and Fort Smith.
Counties Crawford | Franklin | Sebastian | Logan | Scott | Polk

Summer 2020 Outreach Summary

The Arkansas Economic Development Institute conducted interviews and surveys to help assess the needs of Arkansas’s communities among the eight development districts during the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. This section summarizes these findings for the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District.

Miscellaneous Interview Comments

In WAPDD, the following types of businesses have been affected by COVID-19:
Mom and pop shops | Lawn care | Chambers of Commerce | Local boutiques | Churches | Tanning salons | Tire shops | Flower shops | Mechanics | Auto parts manufacturer
6.3% of WAPDD businesses that were closed summer of 2020 will likely close permanently due to COVID-19

WAPDD Advisory Committee Members

Randy McClaren II
Plant Manager, Bekaert

Ryan Gehrig
President, Mercy Hospital Fort Smith

Steve Dufresne
Director of Utilities, Van Buren Water

Lance Lanier
Executive Vice President, Citizens Bank and Trust

Drake Smith
Director of Sales, Pinnacle Telecom

Brandon Fisher
IT/GIS Manager, Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative

Jordan Hale
Field Representative, Office of U.S. Representative Steve Womack

Jessi Solley
Field Representative, Office of U.S. Senator John Boozman

Chris Hoover
Field Representative, Office of U.S. Senator Tom Cotton

Kelsey Kelton
Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Jackie Krutsch
Executive Director of Development, Arkansas Colleges of Health Education

Seth Smith
Mayor, City of Mena

Brandon Nelson
City Administrator, City of Waldron

Maryl Purvis
Executive Director, Van Buren A&P

Robert Herrera
Bank Lender, First Western Booneville

Claude Legris
Executive Director, Fort Smith A&P

Jason Green
Human Resource Business Partner, ABB

Lorie Robertson
Director of Marketing, Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority

Rod Lovan
Owner, Stirling Soap

Tonya Baumgartner
Executive Director, Paris Chamber of Commerce

Rob Ratley
Community Affairs Manager, OG+E Energy Corp.

Justin Smith
Chief Business/Community Outreach Officer, Arkansas Technical University-Ozark

Janie Wann
Human Resources Manager, Rockline Industries

Eddie Melton
Market President, Bank OZK

Dr. Ken Warden
Dean, College of Applied Science and Technology, University of Arkansas Fort Smith

Daniel Rogers
Mayor, City of Paris

Dennis Gilstrap
Judge, Crawford County

Greg Aleshire
Contractor, Aleshire Electric

Gary Baxter
Mayor, City of Mulberry

Doug Kinslow
Mayor, City of Greenwood

Jennifer Turner
Career and Technical Education Coordinator, Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative

Brad Thomas
Director, Crawford County Office of Emergency Management

Tobi Miller
Director, Logan County Office of Emergency Management

Susan Bulger
Executive Director, South Logan County Chamber

Melissa McClintock
Owner, Big River Roller Manufacturing

Rachel Mize
President, Stark Manufacturing

Sam Sicard
President and CEO, First National Bank

Russ Bragg
Senior Vice President, Supply Chain, OK Foods

Lance Logsdon
Operations Manager, Simmons Foods

Jacob Abrey
Administrative Specialist, Baptist Health

Melodie Bauhof
Director of Logistics & Custom Affairs, Pernod Ricard USA

Steve Vicary
Director, Purchased Transportation, ABF Freight

Sam McCain
Senior Director of Operations, USA Truck

Phillip Wilson
Chancellor, University of Arkansas Rich Mountain