Sitting along Interstate 30 between Texarkana and Arkadelphia is the manufacturing town of Hope.
The birthplace of former President Bill Clinton and former Gov. Mike Huckabee has a population of just under 10,000.
With an unemployment rate below the national average and a stable employment base, Beckie Moore, executive director of the Hope-Hempstead Chamber of Commerce, said the town is “heavy” on manufacturing. Moore said the town’s three biggest employers are Walmart, Tyson and Southern Bakeries.
Close proximity to Interstate 30 is a great advantage for Hope, according to Moore. She also said the town is small enough to build relationships easily yet large enough to be in a competitive market. Infrastructure, community amenities and livability are additional advantages, Moore said.
With the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, Moore said the town has a “bridge to the future.” The school offers the first two years of a traditional college experience and plenty of certificate programs to prepare students for an ever-changing workforce.
“Students are able to take advantage of programs in a variety of high-demand technical fields, and employees of local businesses and industries participate in training opportunities to upgrade their skills,” Moore said.
Economically, location and diversity of workforce are two great strengths Hope has going for it, according to Moore. Hope has power in its agriculture base and site-ready industrial areas prime for new businesses.
Being the birthplace of Clinton provides a strong tourism base for the town. Mayor Steve Montgomery said, “We get quite a few visitors on that.”
The mayor said Hope gets quite a few visitors off the interstate when they see the Clinton signs.
“I’m amazed at the number of people that come off,” he said.
Moore agreed, saying, “Being the home of the 42nd President of the United States definitely helps due to the fact that 10,000 plus still visit the Clinton Birthplace National Historic Site each year.”
The chamber of commerce executive director said the town is working to address issues like poverty and education, which are some of the strongest areas of need at the moment.
But Hope doesn’t let those areas weigh them down looking toward the future.
Moore said, “The great news is that every area in our community is a part of the plan to grow industry, small/large business, improve schools, improve healthcare and revitalize historic downtown Hope.”