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— The community has responded positively and with thought to Central Arkansas’s Community Development Institute’s findings regarding Camden.

The institute took a good look at Camden and provided a report of our good points and not so good points.

For example, the institute reported what could be good news and bad news about possible entrepreneurship here. A slide presentation gave as an example, a young entrepreneur who would look favorably on the downtown master plan and online applications but could possibly be discouraged by limited commercial real estate and lack of affordable housing as well as a lack of a young professional program.

Also, information in a slide presentation showed that retirees could be attracted to the local hospital and the TRACE, while discouraged by limited senior center information and lack of variety in food choices.

Rather than bristle at what we might consider criticism by outsiders, residents of Camden are appreciative of such assessments that offer us the opportunity to improve and prosper.

Members of the community recently discussed the information at a gathering hosted by Mayor Julian Lott and Reese Dycus, executive director of the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District, who discussed seven categories with opportunities for improvement. They included education and workforce, health and wellness, recreation and things to do, downtown development, business and industry, arts and culture as well as physical environment.

Rather than listen to such information and wonder passively, “Well, that’s interesting, but what are we going to do about it? our fellow residents are actively responding.

The mayor has encouraged those attending the session to sign up for focus groups according to their particular interests. A person from each group will work with Dycus and meet later to brainstorm ideas to achieve improvements.

It’s always good to take a good look at ourselves to see what we can do better and how we can do it. Taking such looks with fresh sets of eyes gives a new and more objective perspective.

Thanks to those involved in these efforts and we look forward to hearing about their ideas and plans.

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