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Why I Moved Here: Residents Share Their Stories of Choosing Searcy

3 min read

Dr. Michael Williams
President, Harding University

Dr. Michael Williams (Provided)

Our family ties to the city run deep. My wife and I are midwesterners by birth, but we have lived in Arkansas longer than any other place and this is home to us. I am a Harding University alum, I served the institution in a variety of capacities over 28 years, our sons were born in Searcy and we recently returned to Searcy when I was appointed as the sixth president of Harding University in 2022.

Coming back to lead my alma mater was a humbling moment. We have tremendous momentum and we are celebrating 100 years. It’s a wonderful time to look at what has been accomplished, but we really want to be intentional about what the second century looks like. How do we lean into partnerships with the community and the state? How do we look at the challenges of our state and communities? How can Harding be part of the solution?

Since our return to Searcy, I’ve been really captured that there seems to be a growing progressive spirit to really work collectively. Our future lives are absolutely intertwined and if faith, business, education, and public policy leaders are living parallel lives and staying in our own lanes, not much is achieved. There is a rich spirit among all of us that the future can be better.

There is an intentionality that comes with locking arms and working together. There are so many rich opportunities here.


Spencer Oyemaja
Water Treatment Plant Manager, Searcy Water Utilities

(Left) Spencer Oyemaja (Provided)

I have lived in Searcy for over 20 years. I moved here because of work, and now my wife and I are raising our children here.

We enjoy the quiet nature and family-oriented community that Searcy offers.

The future of Searcy is bright thanks to the #MySearcy Master Plan, which is aimed at building a vibrant, inclusive and thriving city for now and generations to come.

Insider Tip: Visit the historic 1874 Black House and the White County Courthouse, which is the oldest functioning Courthouse in the state.


The Pugh Family
Michelle: Owner & Founder, Pugh Communications; co-owner, Munoz Pugh
Preston: Neonatologist at Unity Health

The Pugh Family (Provided)

For several years we talked about different communities in Central Arkansas where we could live. Searcy rose to the top of the list because of its good schools, number of churches, community events, great people, and more. We decided to move to Searcy before finding out that Preston would be working at Unity Health. After purchasing land and deciding to build, we found out that Preston would have the opportunity to help build a new NICU at Unity upon his fellowship completion in June 2024.

The thing we most appreciate about Searcy is its commitment to community. Even as it has grown, Searcy has continued to find ways to provide the small town community experience while still offering so many family-friendly activities. We have actually driven from Little Rock to Searcy on multiple occasions for holiday events and festivals.

Insider Tip: I would definitely recommend heading downtown and visiting the shops and restaurants. Main Street Searcy has done a wonderful job over the past several years revitalizing downtown into something everyone can enjoy.

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