(Editor's Note: Each year, Arkansas Business partners with the Arkansas Municipal League to present the Trendsetter City awards, which recognize exceptional initiatives underway in municipalities across the state. Large, medium and small-sized cities were honored in six categories: Diversity and Inclusion; Education/Workforce Development; Infrastructure and Water; Public Works/Environmental and Green Management; Technology and Security; and Tourism Development/Creative Culture. Below is one winner's story. For more, click here.)
Tourism Development/Creative Culture
Honorable Mention • 20,000 or Greater
Mayor: Allen Brown
Since 2011, Texarkana’s Front Street Plaza has been the epicenter of art and entertainment in the city, serving as a catalyst for events and private investment that continues to grow with a proliferation of bars and restaurants. For an area that once had more abandoned than occupied buildings, the goal has been simple: bring people downtown, promote tourism to the city and region and encourage downtown revitalization and economic development in one of the first designated entertainment districts in the state.
The Front Street Plaza stage is the former loading dock for the Union Pacific Railroad.
Initial investment in the outdoor venue included utility hookups for vendors and a long-term lease for the former loading dock used as a stage. Nonprofit and private entities began using the facilities, and new money was allotted by the state legislature. The City of Texarkana and the Texarkana Advertising and Promotion Commission recently funded construction on a cover for the existing stage and multiple restrooms on festival grounds that will help attract larger concerts and audiences. There are additional plans for permanent amphitheater seating.