Commissioners from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, the Economic Development Commission and the State Parks, Recreation and Tourism Commission held the first meeting of its kind at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
"It's a major cultural amenity that's a gift to our state," says Mike Malone, the president of the Northwest Arkansas Council. "I think each agency wants to better understand about it and how to help promote it and how it can best impact our state,"
Darin Gray, Chairman of the Arkansas State Parks Recreation and Travel Commission, says the meeting itself will have a huge impact.
"The needs are great, the challenges are great and resources are limited," Gray says. "Any time we can get these agencies in the room at the same, understanding what one another are doing, understanding their priorities and then understanding where we can partner Arkansans benefit from that."
A hot topic at the meeting was a $350 million highway project that could fix traffic flow in Northwest Arkansas, according to ASHTD Director Scott Bennett.
"With that program we would be able to widen 540 to six lanes from Fayetteville to Bentonville," he says. "Good highways are good for economic development and they're good for tourism."
The price tag also covers the completion of the Bella Vista bypass to the Missouri state line, and part of a bypass for Springdale, Bennett says. But the highway department needs help, and is asking voters to approve a half percent sales tax in November, and at Thursday's meeting Bennett asked his colleagues to help.
"It's simply not possible with our existing revenue streams," he says. "This is something that we all need to support that we all need help on."
Commissioners hope to include even more state agencies at their next meeting, but a date has not yet been set.