Over 450 guests gathered at the end of January as First Community Bank presented the Chamber's Annual Meeting and Gala. Guests were presented with a collectable map reflecting the "White River Lodge" theme and significant community milestones and accomplishments as a review of 2019.
Cutting Ribbons and Breaking Ground in Independence County
Numerous additions to the Batesville and Independence County economy were celebrated from small businesses to bank headquarters and expansions of such. An impressive number of relocations and renovations also suggests that residents are not just fascinated with new, but can imagine possibilities and are willing to invest in multi-generation spaces.
Jobs, Tourism Spending Still Trending Upward
Tourism expenditures increased 4% over 2018, presumably a result of Independence County playing host to four different state tournaments in 2019 and the Advertising and Promotions Commission's effort to incentivize events that attract overnight stays to the area. The Commission granted over $20,000 to organizations and event promoters in 2019. It was also revealed that over the last five years, Independence County's job growth rate (9%) has outpaced the national average (6.9%).
Major Moves in Education
Education was an area of major movement in 2019, with bold moves from Batesville School District launching their "Secure Our Future" millage campaign and UACCB's groundbreaking of a state-of-the-art Workforce Development Center. Southside School District also garnered $1.25 million in grant funds for an innovative junior high charter concept that will go live in 2020. Further, Cedar Ridge reported aggressive student achievement gains earning them a spot on ADE's "schools to watch" list.
IMPACT Extends Reach to Birth
Accomplishments in the healthy living and wellbeing area focused on Independence County's youngest residents and the Excel by Eight collaborative with partners from the health, education, and non-profit sectors. In 2019, and the earliest stage of its initiative, it reached over 250 families and was featured in the Early Childhood Health Equity Landscape Project of the National Institute for Children's Health Quality and Child Trends.
The steering committee has reviewed data and the community's input and identified the following areas to address: