SHREVEPORT, LA (December 12, 2023) –
When participants in the University of Central Arkansas’ Community Development Institute (CDI) looked to an Arkansas community where they could make a positive impact, they completed an assessment of the City of Murfreesboro and identified specific needs to support future economic growth.
The CDI class conducted an online first impressions tour of the city, completed a driving/walking tour, and shared opportunities with local leadership aimed at identifying and understanding their assets and opportunities. The CDI team produced a report of their findings and recommendations that was shared with the community and local leaders.
“Already, the community boasts one of the only places in the world where the public can search for real diamonds in their original volcanic source,” explained SWEPCO external affairs manager Jennifer Harland, who also is a CDI participant and certified Professional Community and Economic Developer (PCED). “The. Crater of Diamonds, located in southern Arkansas, is a one-of-a-kind state park that regularly attracts people from across the United States. Importantly, this is only one facet of what makes this community special, and our goal was to identify other areas of potential impact.”
The effort aligned with Harland’s work at SWEPCO where the company’s mission includes a focus on helping make local economic development even more successful. That often includes such partnerships as offering free online training. For Harland, she also knew there was an opportunity to find other support for this community.
“Murfreesboro is a true gem,” Jennifer Harland shared. “Not only is it home to the nation’s only diamond mine that’s open to the public, but it also offers great fishing, camping and boating on beautiful Lake Greeson. The downtown square is busting with activity, dining and shopping opportunities for all ages and interests.”
According to CDI participants they stressed to city leaders the importance of collaboration. Based on Harland’s assessment, there was an opportunity to enhance a safe community space for children to be physically active and enjoy fun-filled recreation. She soon set to work to connect the opportunity to the American Electric Power Foundation.
Today, the American Electric Power Foundation at the recommendation of SWEPCO, and in collaboration with the City of Murfreesboro, AR, announced a $21,000 grant to upgrade the facilities and purchase new playground equipment for the Murfreesboro City Park.
The park has evolved to include various leisure amenities such as baseball, softball, and t-ball fields, a basketball court, a volleyball pit, and public spaces for families and friends to gather.
“With this grant, the park will introduce new playground equipment, including a new slide and offering family-friendly atmosphere,” Harland added. “This will not only provide children with more options for play but also attract families to frequent the park, consequently fostering a sense of community and promoting active lifestyles.”
“The Murfreesboro City Park relies on external support to meet its maintenance and improvement needs. The grant from SWEPCO is a significant contribution towards sustaining this valuable community asset,” Murfreesboro Mayor Jim O’Neal said.
The Murfreesboro City Park leaders are focused on ensuring their facilities are accessible to as many people as possible. The recent addition of safe playground swings for those with disabilities is just the beginning of a series of planned improvements.
“SWEPCO’s grant to the City of Murfreesboro for playground equipment and facility upgrades exemplifies their dedication to creating vibrant and inclusive communities,” Harland added. “This partnership ensures that the Murfreesboro City Park remains a cherished gathering place for families and friends while providing children with opportunities for active play and recreation.”
SWEPCO often supports local community and economic developers earn certification from CDI and others by offering scholarships to attend. Learn more about CDI at www.uca.edu/cdi. Learn more about CDI can be found at www.uca.edu/cdi.
About Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) SWEPCO, an American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) company, serves more than 552,665 customers in Northwest and Central Louisiana, Northeast Texas and the Texas Panhandle, and Western Arkansas. SWEPCO’s headquarters are in Shreveport, La. News releases and other information about SWEPCO can be found at SWEPCO.com. Connect with us at Facebook.com/SWEPCO, Twitter.com/SWEPCOnews, Instagram.com/swepco, Youtube.com/SWEPCOtv and LinkedIn.com/company/swepco.
About American Electric Power (AEP) At American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, we understand that our customers and communities depend on safe, reliable and affordable power. Our nearly 17,000 employees operate and maintain more than 40,000 miles of transmission lines, the nation’s largest electric transmission system, and more than 225,000 miles of distribution lines to deliver power to 5.6 million customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with nearly 29,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including approximately 6,100 megawatts of renewable energy. AEP is investing $43 billion over the next five years to make the electric grid cleaner and more reliable. We are on track to reach an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and have a goal to achieve net zero by 2045. AEP is recognized consistently for its focus on sustainability, community engagement and inclusion. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana, east Texas and the Texas Panhandle). AEP also owns AEP Energy, which provides innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide. For more information, visit aep.com.