A presentation was made to the Sevier County Quorum Court by Sevier County EDGE (Economic Development, Growth and Excellence) members, at the court’s meeting last Monday. EDGE is a newly-formed coalition of businesses working together to help bring economic growth to De Queen and Sevier County.
Renee Brenneman of De Queen Motorsports introduced other members of the organization that were present, and told the court that in the two months since text messages were first exchanged proposing the idea of EDGE, the membership was expanding weekly.
Brenneman showed the court the organization’s logo, which was a graphic of Arkansas with an arrow pointed at Sevier County, and spokes surrounding it. At the end of each spoke were goals of the group: Diversity/Unification, marketing natural attractions, housing, community beautification, parks and tourism, a wet/dry initiative, soccer and recreation.
“Those are things we’re going to be working on,” she said. “We want growth in De Queen and Sevier County. As business owners, that’s the way we make our living.”
She said that if the local area can’t grow, then the businesses would have to either close or move somewhere else that was growing.
Brenneman said that the group has a Facebook page (Sevier County EDGE), which has almost 700 likes, and a website (seviercountyedge.org).
“We’re trying to get our name out there and accomplish growth in De Queen and Sevier County,” she told the court.
She then showed a couple of videos that are both available to view on the group’s Facebook page.
She said that the Cossatot River would be a big marketing tool for the EDGE, due to its being one of the few Class 5 rivers in the U.S.
“A lot of people come down to float that river,” she said, noting that the areas parks and natural resources were marketable.
Brenneman said that while dining in nearby Hochatown, Okla., she noticed that they play videos on the TVs there advertising Hochatown and that she wanted to advertise De Queen and Sevier County on those channels. She said that a visit to Beaver’s Bend had her realize that the camp sites there were no comparison to local sites.
“We really want to promote that,” she said. “We want to get some of that revenue from the people that want the more natural stuff — the quiet, not the long lines.”
She said that De Queen and Sevier County was a great place to camp and rent cabins.
“It’s a good spot to land and do day trips,” she said, mentioning nearby attractions such as Crater of Diamonds State Park or Queen Wilhelmina State Park.
Brenneman said that the group wasn’t looking to make De Queen another Hochatown, but rather they could take the spillover when Beaver’s Bend gets a little too crowded.
“The more of those kind of people that we get here, that’s what we want,” she said.
She then asked the Quorum Court if they could be partners with the group in purchasing advertising on a billboard on Highway 259 between Idabel and Broken Bow, Okla., where many tourists pass on their way to and from Beaver’s Bend. She said that there were no available northbound spots available but she felt that even a southbound billboard would attract visitors to the area that were seeking a less hectic vacation environment.
“We’re just getting started but we do have $1,500 in the account, she said, asking the court to donate another $1,500, almost half the yearly cost of the billboard.
“The billboard is going to make a big splash,” she said.
Brenneman said that for $500, they can buy a whole year’s worth of TV ads and that they planned to promote the three lakes of Sevier County: De Queen, Dierks and Gillham, and also the rivers. She told the court that they were still seeking their 501(c)3 tax exemption but that she understood the organization could still raise funds as long as it had an application in.
“We’ve been told it could take up to 12 months to approve it,” she said.
She said that there were membership fees as well that businesses paid to join.
“Hopefully we’ll get strong enough to not have to ask for money,” she said, noting that membership has doubled in the last month.
Brenneman was directed by the court to contact the county clerk’s office to get the required paperwork filled out so that the court could vote to take action at their meeting in August.