Education and economic development go hand in hand. This is a basic tenet of the Rural Schools Collaborative, and we believe there is no better example of this thinking than Arkansas' Rural Community Alliance's (RCA) Ozark Byways program. RCA's genesis was grounded in supporting public education, but the relationship between thriving communities and strong schools led to the organization branching out into economic development.
Ozark Byways is a regional revitalization project of the RCA in partnership with its member communities in north central Arkansas. Its purpose is to provide information about rural Ozarks communities to visitors and to businesses looking to relocate to a safe and caring small-town setting. Ozark Byways works hand in hand with several localities to enhance revitalization efforts being carried out in their communities.
The project culminated in a magazine publication, as well as a website, highlighting attractions and events in each of its 16 community partners, along with general information to visitors or potential employers. From features on natural wonders like the Buffalo National River and the Ozark Mountains, to information about the famous burgers and catfish at Timbo Dairy Barn, the magazine and website promote the local gems in the region.
The Ozark Byways project is an exemplification of what can happen when committed partners come together. RCA, recognizing the relationship between strong schools and strong communities, has established a forum for small Ozarks’ communities to tell their stories and engage visitors. This kind of collaboration strengthens local businesses, social infrastructure, and, ultimately, public schools. It does so in a way that builds community pride and supports regional partnerships.
If you would like to obtain a copy the latest Ozark Byways magazine please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 22, 2021
Thank you to the National Rural Education Association for co-sponsoring the 4th Annual National Signature Project grant.
February 2, 2021
The University of Indianapolis' Center for Excellence in Leadership of Learning will serve as the Hub Anchor.