Harrison: Renovation Becomes A CORE Issue (Main Street Preservation | Honorable Mention 5,000-20,000)

In 2009, the city of Harrison’s downtown needed a little updating.

Retired U.S. Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, R-Ark., formed a group to develop a plan to improve the looks of the city’s downtown and attract more businesses to the area.

The group’s efforts have earned Harrison, with a population just under 13,000, honorable mention recognition as a 2012 Arkansas Business City of Distinction for Main Street preservation.

The group, called Central Organization for Revitalization & Enhancement, has supported local businesses and encouraged them to open in the Main Street area, said Harrison Mayor Jeff Crockett.

The encouragement worked. Since 2009, several new businesses, from the Old Tyme Candy Store to Hickory Hills Insurance, have opened, and CORE also supported improving Main Street itself.

“The road was very narrow,” Crockett said. “You would really be white knuckling it going down Main Street.”

In 2011, the street was converted from a four-lane street with no turn lane to two lanes with a turn lane. The street now features enough shoulder space for bikers or walkers, Crockett said.

CORE also landed a grant to plant 38 trees in Lake Harrison Park, which is next to Main Street and the city’s Downtown Square.

CORE also created self-guided, historic walking tours for the downtown. It had 80,000 brochures about the tours printed, and they are distributed in more than 80 locations. CORE also conducts free tours twice a week.

“It’s always been a quaint and beautiful downtown area,” Crockett said. But now it is improved with the added touches and increased activity, he said.

“CORE has been able to maintain high efficiency with time donated by concerned citizens,” Crockett said. “If its previous accomplishments are any indication, CORE will enjoy a long life with the continual refurbishment and upgrading of Main Street and the Harrison downtown area.”