EDITOR'S NOTE: Today through Wednesday, we examine the community's successes and growth in special installments titled Decoding the Decade. Today's edition has two installments. Below, some local leaders reflect about our most significant achievements in that time and others offer what they believe the years ahead will hold. Also, today's Section E, our annual progress edition, highlights businesses with deep community roots that will continue to proudly serve Texarkana. The section also chronicles advances in transportation, education, water infrastructure and small business.
The Interstate 30 frontage road and bridge replacement project has been a major improvement for our community.
The continued expansion of Texas A&M University-Texarkana has paid big dividends with the construction of several campus buildings and development of additional degree programs and men's and women's athletic programs to complement a well-rounded campus community.
The city of Texarkana, Texas, has done a great job of addressing quality of life programs by retrofitting existing walking trails and adding new walking trails, as well as bike trails, upgrading playground equipment at city parks and refurbishing the pond at Spring Lake Park. There has been noted growth with sports related tournaments, utilizing local hotels and motels and increasing sales tax revenue.
—Bob Bruggeman, Mayor
of Texarkana, Texas
The biggest transformation began with the construction of the interchanges which have crisscrossed, realigned and redesigned how we navigate the city and travel to the many other exciting cities within the four states region.
The local academic-scene has enjoyed an infrastructure awakening with brand new campuses, new complexes, new technological advances and new academic offerings.
The Texarkana, Arkansas, School District received a Magnet School Grant, which transformed every school within the district into a specialized learning facility for our youth.
The University of Arkansas at Hope-Texarkanaincreasing its presence in the area.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., produced its 400 millionth tire. FedEx Freight expanded operations with a new location and added more than 100 jobs. The efforts to stop the closure of Red River Army Depot shows the community's strength in coming together to support our fellow workers and citizens. Now with the creation of REDI, Texarkana USA is poised to be a recognized nationwide commercial opportunity leader with a well-educated, hard working employment selection.
—Allen Brown, Mayor of Texarkana, Ark., and CEO of Mil-Way Federal Credit Union; and Shelby Brown, Wadley Regional Medical Center
The blurring of State Line in the minds of our citizens and leaders helps us progress together rather than digress from ridiculous infighting causing stagnation. The cooperation from city, county and state governments in both states is at an all-time high. This will exponentially and positively impact the future of our city, Texarkana, USA, for decades to come.
The most significant moment evidencing our 'coming together' was on September 4, 2018. On this significant day, Arkansas' Governor Hutchison and Texas' Governor Abbott along with thousands of supportive citizens joined (despite the miserable heat) at the historic, down-town post office to celebrate, unify and support our expanded efforts to seize economic development opportunities. We came together committed to working together to grow Texarkana, USA. If not us who and if not now when? Now is the time, we are working together and I'm excited and look forward to what the next decade brings.
—Sonja Yates Hubbard, Principal of Yates Group and Board Chair of AR-TX Regional Economic Development Inc.
Bowie County, Texas, is blessed to have hard working residents, abundant resources and a broad base -all which translates to sound financial footing for the county. Overall, the last 10 years in Bowie County have been marked with economic growth and a tax rate lower than most Texas counties. s.
In just the last four years, the county has seen the successful completion of U.S. Highway 82; infrastructure improvements to county buildings; energy savings projects; transition to fleet vehicles for the sheriff's department and upgraded county road equipment.
Building upon past success brings a bright future for Bowie County. The county is positioned to attract industry, provide good paying jobs and continue to be a great place to raise a family and to call home.
—James Carlow, Bowie County Judge
I can make a very strong case for talking about growth at A&M, developments at TC, establishment of REDI, advances in our schools, our businesses, the profoundly important engagement of our young professionals, movement on the Grim and Main Street - among other developments without doubt - ALL have had SIGNIFICANT impact on making Texarkana USA
Underlying all would be the selfless and generous leadership of INDIVIDUALS which has enabled us to add such incredible assetsbut speaking from a VERY egocentric point of view - is it possible that underlying THAT could be a renewed commitment and community imperative to work together?
In 2010 there was a lot going on, but the issue was that there were many who were not speaking to one another, to make the most of our limited resourcesSo might the most significant development in the past 10 years be that we have changed/upgraded the way we do business?
We are committed to working together for our best collective future with a common focus while getting more citizens all up and down the line to support it.
—Ruth Ellen Whitt, Leadership Texarkana executive director
There's no stronger supporter than a convert, and I've definitely converted from someone who knew little about Texarkana when I moved here six years ago to one of this city's biggest fans. I have come to love—not only the warm, friendly people from all walks of life and the region's natural beauty—but also the amazing "can-do" spirit that makes things happen in this city. As I remind people, Texas A&M University-Texarkana wouldn't be here if it weren't for community leaders' vision of a four-year and graduate university. At TAMU-T, we work every day to achieve that vision. While continuing to serve our immediate region, we are now bringing students to Texarkana from all across the globe, and many also become converts, falling in love with the region, and hoping to make their homes here after graduation.
Those of us who work in education at any level know how important learning is to growth and economic prosperity. With the expansion of higher education and the launch of AR-TX REDI, I see the potential for economic growth on an unprecedented scale. To attract and retain industry and to bring jobs to the area, we need an educated workforce and a quality of life that education provides. Across this city, there are hundreds of educators at all levels who are working toward that result.
— Dr. Emily Cutrer, president of Texas A&M University-Texarkana
Upon arriving in Texarkana, I felt the pride of the community in its education systems, the vibrant cultural base and the unifying agent of the iconic "State Line." The future is bright for Texarkana USA, and I see progress unfold every day through the work of so many people who love this community. It is rare to find a community such as ours that is full of people who give so freely of their time and talent. The future is bright for our region as we work to build the next generation of workforce talent.
My wife, Jodie, along with our two sons Reed, 5, and Grayson, 2, feel fortunate to call Texarkana our home. What we love the most about Texarkana is that there is an incredible atmosphere of small-town values along with the benefit of having a larger community equipped with industry, retail and recreational activities.
— Dr. Jason Smith, president of Texarkana College
While I have been a Texarkana resident only a short time, it has been long enough to feel the soulful, hard-working, dedicated, tenacious heart of this community. I felt the strength of this spirit upon my very first visit and that feeling grows stronger each day. The deep roots of this region, stretching back decades and generations, are the foundation that make this place what it is today and will continue to support it well into a future of growth and prosperity.
I believe the future holds tremendous success for our area. We are incredibly fortunate to have a robust and growing transportation infrastructure along with institutions of higher learning sharply focused on training the next generation of workforce talent in areas like advanced manufacturing, supply chain, logistics, and technology. These factors, combined with an aggressive and proactive approach to economic development, will be what brings Texarkana to the next level.
.—Rob Sitterley, President and CEO of AR-TX Regional Economic Development Inc.