Moving Manila Forward Soars Ahead at Breakthrough Solutions Conference

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Representatives from Manila City Government, Moving Manila Forward, Breakthrough Solutions, and Mississippi County Extension agents working with the Moving Manila initiative are pictured at the 2018 Breakthrough Solutions Conference with the 2018 SOAR Award. Pictured are, from left: Wayne Wagner, Manila mayor; Cathy Huddleston, Manila administrative assistant; Dr. Pamela Pruett, Mississippi Co. Family and Consumer Sciences agent; Chris Cheadle, Moving Manila Forward chair Agriculture and Food Action Team; Ray Benson, Mississippi Co. staff chair and agriculture agent; Melinda Faubel, Breakthrough Solutions partner with AT&T Arkansas; and Dr. Mark Peterson, professor of Community and Economic Development. (photo provided)

What do Eureka Springs, Rison, Harrison, Alma, Newport, and Manila have in common? They are a few of the Arkansas communities that have benefitted from partnering with the Breakthrough Solutions program. Breakthrough Solutions is a partnership program of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture with the purpose of equipping communities and regions in Arkansas to be vibrant, sustainable and resilient in the 21st century economy.

The program supports communities and regions as they plan for and take action, has 20 Breakthrough Solutions partners and holds an annual conference. At the recent annual conference in Little Rock, Moving Manila Forward received the coveted Breakthrough Solutions SOAR Community Award.

Moving Manila Forward is a community development focused group that formed just over a year ago. The group was recognized for their exemplary vision, organization, and accomplishments. The Moving Manila Forward group was initiated as an outcome of the Breakthrough Solutions program, and demonstrates that:

·Citizens and community leaders can really make a difference in their communities.

·An asset-opportunity mindset is effective to move toward action.

·Communities that come together and take action will be the ones that succeed in the long term, because they generate and attract resources.

Dr. Mark Peterson, professor of Community and Economic Development, who has worked extensively with the Moving Manila Forward community group said, “Congratulations to the leaders and citizens of Manila involved in Moving Manila Forward, as it was chosen to receive the 2018 Breakthrough Solutions SOAR Community Award at the 2018 Breakthrough Solutions Conference recently. This award is given to the one community in Arkansas that best exemplifies the spirit and principles of Breakthrough Solutions, engaging the community in an effective development process to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future.”

When members of the Manila Pilot’s Association shared their interest in exploring how the airport and community could address critical issues and take advantage of their assets with Ray Benson, Mississippi County Extension agriculture agent and staff chair, this led to several events that laid the groundwork for the formation of Moving Manila Forward.

Moving Manila Forward is a broad-based community development initiative consisting of five action teams working on a variety of goals to improve and enhance the quality of life in Manila. The five action teams include: Agriculture and Food; Aviation; Downtown Revitalization and Retail; Economic Development, Education, and Infrastructure; and Quality of Life and Place.

Breakthrough Solutions provides a community or county with:

·A way to take a fresh look at their community – challenges and asset-based opportunities from several perspectives.

·A process to prioritize key issues and opportunities for their community.

·The opportunity to receive follow-up technical assistance from the University of Arkansas Systems Division of Agriculture and Breakthrough Solutions Partners.

For more information about the Breakthrough Solutions program and partners, go to business-communities/strategic-planning/ breakthrough-solutions.aspx.

Dr. Pamela Pruett is a County Extension Agent – Family and Consumer Sciences with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service in Mississippi County. She can be reached by email

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