Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rogers Chamber: "Think Big; Throw Long"

The Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce is to be commended. Two weeks ago they held a workshop to help small businesses in their community prosper and grow. Now they are working to make historic downtown Rogers "an engine of economic development," utilizing green spaces, parks and alternative transportation plans to attract jobs and residents downtown.

There are several pieces already in place to support this new vision for economic vitality in historic downtown Rogers. The Main Street Project and the Rogers Historical Museum are partner institutions that are lacking in places like Fayetteville. Fayetteville Downtown Partners recently let the staff go, and Rogers is considering building a Children's Museum, whereas the University of Arkansas abruptly closed the museum on its campus that was a highlight for many Northwest Arkansas school children.

It is good to see the Rogers Chamber dedicated to developing their Vision 2025 Plan for the historic downtown district instead of relying solely on the booming Pinnacle and I-540 developments that produce revenues but look like Plano. That should put them at a significant advantage over the counter-productive Fayetteville Chamber of Cowbirds, where President Bill Ramsey says the Downtown-Dickson area gets too much attention. His vision for Fayetteville is to beg for more Cracker Barrel signs on I-540, more Fuddrucker's in the landlocked mallville, moving the high school somewhere on the outskirts of town, and giving developers a free lunch when they create sprawl that destroys our infrastructure.

There is a certain whimsical irony in the yin and yang of all of this. Bill Ramsey makes Mayor Coody look like a visionary at times. Not even the progressive plans of the Rogers Chamber can do that for Mayor Womack.

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