October 19, 2018
by Ruth Ellen Whitt, Executive Director of Leadership Texarkana

We have a serious challenge in Texarkana USA that affects all of us.  We can fix it, if we choose to.

For everyone’s benefit, we need to. Let me explain.

In the 35 years I’ve lived here, my work has revolved around understanding Texarkana USA. I’ve served in leadership positions for and with organizations, businesses and individuals in every sector. As current Executive Director of Leadership Texarkana, my job is understanding all areas of the community, past, present, future. I have spent innumerable hours pondering who and what we are–and why.

Here are some things I know for sure:

  •  Texarkana is a community of excellence.  We have no claims to perfection (who does?), but we can claim more superlatives than most other communities our size–from nationally recognized educational excellence, to outstanding legal and medical communities, sports teams, incomparable cultural heritage and assets, thriving locally-based businesses serving national and international marketplaces, exquisite churches for a faith-filled populace, legendary golf courses, abundant hunting and fishing, citizens known for their generosity, service and kindness, all surrounded by breathtaking natural green beauty, at a crossroads of undeniable consequence.
  • The brutal fact is that too often the story shared about Texarkana is NOT about our excellence nor our virtues, but features descriptors like:  Ghetto – the armpit of the world – crime-ridden – dangerous – backwards – slow – old – with nothing to do – and (ouch!) Death-arkana. Texarkana is: “just a pass-through town, no one wants to stay here.”  Or it’s “that shadowy place” where the light of Texas doesn’t shine, and where “you never must go.” All this from residents and beyond. The crowning reality: Texarkana as Rat Capital was top result recently in a newcomer’s internet search for videos to learn about his new community.

What are those looking in from the outside to think about us?  What are WE to think?

This negative self-talk is a serious issue for all who call this community “home” because there is no team or business which comes in “first” in its market if it accepts “trash talk” as the its story.  Our Economic Development gurus remind us that our community is in competition every day, with every community in the US and the world, for every creative employee, higher ed student, professional, every retail giant, restaurant, airplane commuter, accountant, artist, line worker, gas customer, tourist, patient, etc.  in short: for all we want to attract who would add value to our community.

How can we compete for economic prosperity if our story is “trash talk”–and WRONG?  

To change our story we have to change our ways.  We must do as any business or team would do: Make it a priority and focus our actions on changing it – starting NOW.  We must parallel the efforts of the REDI group to ensure our economic future.

The GREAT NEWS about Texarkana USA is that this is a community of excellence, filled with smart, generous, committed citizens (like you) and we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to.   

It’s in OUR hands.  The citizens of Texarkana USA must mobilize to name and claim all of our assets and celebrate our community as the thriving community of excellence that it is. 

We must increase the numbers who know about–and keep abreast of–What’s to Love about Texarkana. Citizens who know Texarkana’s virtues speak naturally and regularly in superlatives about our community, but the majority of Texarkanians–even natives–do not know our full story.  “I HAD NO IDEA!” is the common refrain in LT’s history.

We must use the power of the internet and social media to lift up vs tear down Texarkana; to share – reach out – inform – inspire – to overwhelm the negative with the positive.   

To get the ball rolling, Leadership Texarkana has launched this BigLIFT movement to motivate citizens throughout the community to take action–and goTXK.org as the site to make it happen in as little as 15 minutes and three easy steps.  

  1. Go to goTXK.org.   Subscribe to the “What’s to Love Texarkana” news blast, a weekly dose of good news and great ideas for everyone. It’s free and it’s the key. Subscribe; no matter how much you know, there is always more to learn.
  2. INFLUENCE others to go to GoTXK.org and do the same.  Share the What’s To Love weekly with three (plus) people in your lives; if you lead a team, send it to everyone on your list and challenge THEM to share it.  TELL THEM WHY: that THEIR participation can determine THEIR future fortunes. Print out hard copies and pass them to friends, neighbors, co-workers. Tell everyone to subscribe at goTXK.org.
  3.   POST at #goTXK!   SHARE YOUR personal perspectives on What’s to Love at #goTXK; encourage others to, also.  

By working with common focus to address this priority need, by each stepping up to take our own personal measure of responsibility and influencing others to do the same, we can change our community story from “We can’t” “We aren’t.” to “WOW!” “Cool!” “Who knew?”

Complacency won’t suffice.  YOU can make a difference. YOU can lead the way and YOU can influence others. As your actions ripple outward, YOU can be determining your OWN good fortune for your business, organization, our community.

Imagine our community’s added value and opportunity to compete and succeed when Texarkana’s preeminent narrative reflects our superlatives and attracts attention, business and people for all the RIGHT reasons.    Imagine when the top internet search yields:

Texarkana USA: a community of proven EXCELLENCE and unequaled POTENTIAL.

That is Texarkana’s true story.  It will happen if – when – because – we who live here each step up as individuals and work together with common focus to make it so.


Categories: Editorial

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