On January 9, 2015 The Arkadelphia Benchmarking tour had city and municipal staff and residents travel to Arkadelphia and met at the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce hoping to benefit from that city’s experience. A tornado ripped through Arkadelphia March 1, 1997 killed six and injured more than 100. More than 260 businesses being damaged or destroyed. It was stated that downtown was 99% occupied when the tornado came through.
Mayor James Firestone and Mayor Randy Holland touched on the particular damage to their cities. After discussion, the Mayor of Arkadelphia stated her efforts for development were heavily funded by grants. She stated grants have taken up to a year to write and submit. However, even though grants take time, they are worth it because at the end, certain developments help keep the city from having “leakage”. It was suggested to encourage residents to shop in their own cities rather than “leaking” the money to other areas and to turn to their legislatures for surplus money. The Arkadelphia group said they have invested heavily in themselves—looking at their strengths and building on them.
The city and municipal staff will take the knowledge gained from this meeting and apply it toward the recovery efforts in Vilonia and Mayflower.