Moving Manila forward
Over 30 Manila citizens met Thursday at the airport terminal building for an informative meeting organized by Ray Benson, Mississippi County Extension Service, chair, UofA Agriculture Division. Guest speakers were Mark Peterson, professor of Community and Economic Division of the University of Arkansas, and Ed Levy, director of architecture, Cromwell Associates.
Benson explained that he and a group from the Pilot's Association had met with representatives of the UofA to discuss ways and opportunities to enhance the Manila Airport. The meeting extended to what is good for the airport and the entire town.
Benson said the University also works with communities in sharing ideas on economic development.
Peterson talked about what the residents of Manila wanted to see for the future of their town and shared ideas on how to build on the resources already in place.
A video was shown of what other rural communities have done to revitalize their downtown areas and other ways to make the area a good draw for new residents and visitors.
The group talked about organizing to get projects done.
Each person attending shared ideas on the top three things they felt Manila needed to grow.
Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner introduced Clif Chitwood, Mississippi County Economic Development director.
Mayor Wagner commended Mr. Chitwood for the work he has done for Mississippi County and his support in West Mississippi County.
Mayor Wagner said Mississippi County is fortunate to have three steel mills and other companies that go with it.
The group shared what they felt were assets to the area which included Big Lake, golf, parks, swimming pools, schools, museums, good jobs nearby, new construction, etc.
Levy presented a video of what draws people to different places, talking about building places people want to visit.
He spoke about short term projects such as clean up days, painting the town, workshops, road tours to other communities to get ideas, different events to draw people to the downtown area, etc.
The group decided to call the organization Moving Manila Forward. A short survey will be distributed throughout Manila giving citizens the opportunity to voice the projects they would like to see happen in their city.
"Congratulations to Manila Moving Forward," Peterson said. "Manila is a very special community, and we were impressed with the commitment of the citizens and leaders in the community to work together. We look forward to seeing real progress moving forward."
The following is a short survey citizens of the community are encouraged to complete and return by May 1 to Revis Blaylock, P.O. Box 1326, Manila, AR 72442.
1) What do you love about Manila?
2) What do you want to see preserved about Manila?
3) What would you like to see improved in Manila?
4) What would you like to see in downtown Manila?
5) What would you like to see at the airport?
6) If you could add any single thing/place/event/activity to Manila, what would it be?