White River Planning and Development District

The White River region encompasses 6,637 square miles or approximately 12.8 percent of the total land area of the State of Arkansas and has a population 237,844 persons. The White River District is a rural area in a rural State in an urban nation. The District is a land of contrasts. The White River, which is the major focal point of the region, passes through rugged hills covered with oak, maple, hickory, ash and southern pine, fed by cold, clear mountain springs and streams, to the flatlands characterized by rich farm land growing rice and soybeans and highly complex wetlands of the Cache and Black Rivers and Bayou Deview. The eastern counties of the District lie in the broad, flat alluvial plains of the Gulf Coast Plain. This area is characterized by extensive agricultural activities. The remaining counties of the District lie within the Ozark Plateaus of the Interior Highlands physiographic region.
Counties Fulton | Sharp | Izard | Stone | Van Buren | Cleburne | Independence | Jackson | White | Woodruff

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 White River Planning and Development District.

Miscellaneous Interview Comments

In WRPDD, the following types of businesses have been affected by COVID-19:
Lodging | Tourist industry | Small amenities like bowling alley, marina, etc. | Boat factory | Ozark Folk Center | Grocery store
13.8% of WRPDD businesses that were closed summer of 2020 will likely close permanently due to COVID-19

WRPDD Advisory Committee Members

Julie Murray
Executive Director, Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce

Kendrick Ketchum
District Manager, Waste Connections Recycling

Darrell Zimmer
Manager, Fulton County Water Authority

Jennifer Perryman
Operations Manager, Fulton County Hospital

Glen Willis
Office of Emergency Management, Independence County

Roger Rich
Superintendent, Southside School District

Amanda Roberts
Director, WRMC Foundation

Karen Coltharp
Owner, Clara Jane & Jax Retail

Boris Dover
President and COO, First Community Bank

Ed Mabry
CED Outreach Coordinator, University of Arkansas PTAC Extension Services

Eric Smith
Judge, Izard County

Pam Williams
Director of Human Resources, Unity Health Healthcare

Kyle Osborne
Mayor, City of Searcy

Stetson Painter
North Arkansas Field Representative, Rick Crawford

Chris Lorch
Vice President of Academics

Lacey Teague-Thorton
Owner, Lemon Tree Boutique

David Stewart
Mayor, City of Newport

Jon Chadwell
Executive Director, Newport Economic Development Commission

Jeff Bookout
Vice-Chancellor, Arkansas State University Newport

Kristie Brewer
Owner, Artisen Grill Restaurant

Mark Skelton
Vice President, Small Business Division, First National Bank

Stacey Avey
Judge, Stone County

Nikki Morrow
Executive Director, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce

David Deaton
CEO, Ozark Health Healthcare

Dale James 
Judge, Van Buren County

Beverly Chapple
Program Manager, Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund

Elijah Snow
Field Representative, Senator John Boozman

Jeff Morris
Projects Director, Senator Tom Cotton