A Who's Who of local economic and political figures showed up for a Friday morning press conference to learn that Hope has received certification for having completed the "PREP" program through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

A Who’s Who of local economic and political figures showed up for a Friday morning press conference to learn that Hope has received certification for having completed the "PREP" program through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
The “PREP” program seeks to assist local economic development teams with training and resources to prepare for economic prospect visits, including a mock site visit and evaluation, according to Cody Slater of the AEDC, who was in town to make the presentation.
“It stands for Prospect Readiness Education Program, and that is what was just completed by the Hempstead County and the City of Hope.  The Hempstead County EDC did very well and was ahead of the curve in that regard. They very successfully achieved the certification,” Slater said.
Hope joins 23 other communities in the State of Arkansas that have completed the program and was certified.
“It was a training exercise for us to help us get ready for industrial prospects. It was a fairly formal multi-step process, and it was a team exercise which brought all of our components together. We want to put our best foot forward,” Steve Harris, president of the Hempstead County Economic Development Corporation, said.
“We pick up some practical tips; they do a critque of us.  A lot of information goes into that. Some do’s, some don’ts, and being organized when prospects come to town, especially for a site visit.  The whole process is about getting us in better shape for when these prospects come to town,” Harris said.
Harris said many prospects and consultants on in town for a limited amount of time, so a key element Harris said is getting key people together to provide information.
“You need the team from all areas — city, county, utilities — to be organized and ready to provide the information or tour a site.  You really want to put your best foot forward,” he said.
According to a formal press statement issued from the ADEC, community economic leaders in Hope have accomplished six different objectives for certification:
Promoted team building and cohesion among community leadership that will have a role in the site-selection process for future economic growth.
• Enabled the community to be better prepared for prospect visits.
• Provided tools and resources to make Hope more competitive in the site-selection, particularly the site visit.
• Encouraged its local leaders to be more proactive in the site-selection process by developing local incentive programs.
• Learned about the site-selection process from start to finish.
• Developed comprehensible and achievable strategies that can be used during local site visits.
On hand for the presentation were Hope Mayor Steve Montgomery, Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse, Dr. Lester Sitzes III, Justice Ed Darling, Hope City Manager Catherine Cook, Hope business owner Gary Chambless, city board member Mark Ross of Ward 1, Justice Lynn Montgomery, and Steve Saum, the general manager of Hope Water & Light.