Strengthening Our Communities

Daily, Various Times

Strengthening Our Communities is a production of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Research and Extension's Department of Community, Professional and Economic Development and KUAR.

The department seeks to strengthen agriculture, communities and families in Arkansas by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. It helps local governments investigate and create viable options for economic and community development and provide leadership development for those serving in our communities.

Strengthening Our Communities is an extension of this mission, providing information to KUAR listeners on subjects ranging from small businesses and federal government purchasing, to community visioning, to leadership and professional development, to how voters can engage with the Arkansas ballot initiative process.

Ways to Connect

Arkansas voters will decide three ballot issues in the upcoming November general election, referred to them by the Arkansas Legislature. The third proposal, Issue 3, is a constitutional amendment that would make changes to the ballot issue process used by citizen groups, as well as increase the number of votes required in the legislature to refer amendments to voters. 

Arkansas voters will decide three ballot issues in the upcoming November general election, referred to them by the Arkansas Legislature. The second proposal, Issue 2, is a constitutional amendment that would end lifetime term limits for state lawmakers. 

Arkansas voters will decide three ballot issues in the upcoming November general election, referred to them by the Arkansas Legislature. The first proposal, Issue 1, is a constitutional amendment that would make permanent a half-cent sales tax that currently funds constructing and maintaining roads across the state. 

Voters in 2012 approved the temporary half-cent sales tax that's set to expire in June 2023. Issue 1 seeks to make that sales tax permanent. If defeated, Arkansas’s state sales tax rate would drop down to 6% when the existing tax expires.

Have you completed your 2020 census yet?

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau strives to get an accurate count of each person living in the United States. But, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional means of census outreach are no longer available.

Did you know April 15 was not always the federal income tax filing deadline?

For many years after the Sixteenth Amendment established a national income tax in 1913, Americans filed their taxes in March. A tax policy overhaul in 1954 pushed us forward a month to April 15. There have been minor allowances and extensions based on natural disasters or whether April 15 fell on the holidays or weekends.

Arkansas and the nation has seen a historic increase in weekly Unemployment Insurance claims recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unemployment Insurance payments act as an important safety net for employees who may use some of this money to purchase items at local businesses which prevent even larger declines in the local economy. This benefit is a program provided through federal and state agencies, but states have flexibility in how it is administered.

Leadership is a broad term with many different theories and styles that guide personal and organizational interactions. Because of this, there are different leadership development programs available through individual employers and communities, as well as state and national organizations.

The LeadAR program at the Cooperative Extension Service, is one example of a state-wide leadership program. Founded in 1984, LeadAR is one of Arkansas’s oldest leadership programs with over 460 alumni.

If you have ever watched a City Council or legislative committee in action, you’ve likely heard them use Parliamentary Procedure when moving from one item to the next on their agenda.

Good parliamentary procedure ensures justice to everyone, prescribes order, reflects kindness and generosity, provides constructive use of limited time and gives one a sense of self- confidence.

This can be true whether you are an elected official, a 4-H Club member or an alumni group planning a high school reunion.

Begin with the end in mind. Every comprehensive program starts with a plan. These plans should include an evaluation strategy and steps for collecting that data during the program, as well as at the end.

Program evaluation data can and should inform long-term program design, delivery strategies, and funding. The purpose of program evaluation is two-fold, to determine if the program is producing the results we expect and to use the data to improve future programing for participants and other stakeholders.

The first step participants take in most leadership development programs is self-assessment.

The theory behind this is, that no one can lead others without first understanding themselves. There are hundreds of personality type assessments that vary in length, emphasis, and basis of research, including some more well-known assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the newer Enneagram Assessment, and the assessment that Cooperative Extension has taught for over 25 years, True Colors, which incorporates edutainment.

County Extension Agents have worked to improve the lives of Arkansans since 1905. Each of Arkansas’ 75 counties has an Extension office, which is staffed with agents who work closely with Extension faculty, who are subject matter experts. These agents then deliver this trusted research-based information to help strengthen agriculture, communities, and families and improve the quality of life for all Arkansans.

In 2018, Arkansas’ three biggest cities collected a combined $18.7 million in taxes on food orders and hotel stays.

This tax is often called the “hamburger” tax because of its relationship with eating out. In many cities, the tax is also applied to hotel stays.

The Advertising and Promotion Commission Tax, as it is officially known, is levied in addition to what people pay in regular city, county and state sales taxes. But this tax money doesn’t go to fund police, fire and other regular city expenses.

A Community Visioning process is used by communities to reimagine or reinvent their path to a desired future.

In this consensus-building process, residents, business owners, elected officials and other stakeholders, work together to identify their assets (things that are working well) and challenges (things that are not working so well).

Arkansas is 1 of 15 states where citizens have the right to propose new state laws and constitutional amendments for voters to decide statewide.

Article 5 of the 1874 Arkansas Constitution grants this power to the people, but it wasn’t until the progressive teen years of the 1900s that citizens used their authority to propose a handful of amendments involving the legislative session and bond issues.

In the years since then, citizens have used the initiative process to enact laws such as:

The U.S. Government is the world’s largest purchaser as it contracts out for all types of products and services – both large and small. It is also required by law to set aside opportunities for small businesses.

Between October 2017-September 2018, there was approximately $895 million available in federal government contracts for work to be done in the state of Arkansas.

To bid for a government contract, small businesses must complete an intricate registration process and wade through lengthy solicitations.