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Downtown … the comeback


For those who remember our downtown in the 1970s and 1980s, you'll recall it was bustling with traffic activities and always well-shopped. There was never a vacancy, and parking was always in short supply. We can not only regain that vibrancy but surpass it. However, this won't be easy. It will require hard work, patience, a bit of luck, and, most importantly, all of us working together.

Revitalizing a downtown is rare, but if any community can do it, Harrison can. We are addressing many critical factors and checking most of the boxes.

The new Creekside Community Center opening will be crucial, attracting large numbers of people to our gyms and aquatics center for competitions. But that’s just one part of the plan; we must draw these visitors to the square and get them walking our sidewalks. We have some ideas for achieving this, but we are learning as we go.

In addition to Creekside, other developments include making Crooked Creek free-flowing, which should become a major attraction. I’m particularly excited about the locally-owned eateries and boutiques popping up. We have also caught the attention of the food truck industry, with many openings and more to come. These businesses are key to drawing local residents, regional visitors, and large sports crowds. Our sports complex already benefits when teams come to town, and restaurant owners are pleased with what’s happening north of the square.

Now, we need to bring those same big crowds to the square. The announcement of four new businesses has generated significant excitement and momentum, which we must maintain. We plan to share this excitement with Arkansas Business, whose weekly magazine reaches thousands of readers. This exposure will prominently feature Harrison.

I am grateful for the downtown business owners’ involvement and leadership. We are pursuing the establishment of a city Historic Preservation Commission, which would streamline the approval process for businesses that want to make improvements to buildings within the downtown National Historic Preservation District. This would shift control from the state to local authorities, providing more tailored support for our community.

The Historic Harrison Business Association (HHBA), other organizations, and leaders are working together to make things happen downtown. I've traveled to many downtowns, and by far, ours is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

Jerry Jackson moved to the community in 1980 and was voted Mayor in 2018. He ran and won re-election in 2022. Email info@harrisonar.gov to contact the mayor’s office.


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