Main Street El Dorado survey open until Nov. 19

Main Street El Dorado is inviting area residents and out-of-town visitors to help develop a vision and objectives for the city's historic downtown.

Beth Brumley, executive director of MSE, issued a reminder about the survey during an El Dorado City Council meeting on Nov. 9.

Participants have until Nov. 19 to make their voices heard by completing a community survey that will assist MSE in setting priorities and assessing what El Dorado and Union County residents and visitors -- adults and children -- would like to see in the Central Business District, which is one of the city's major tourist attractions.

Brumley and Holly McDonald -- executive director and executive assistant, respectively, of MSE -- have said the survey takes approximately two minutes to complete and the results will be incorporated into a new strategic plan that MSE is preparing for 2024.

"... and also to help us recognize what we could do to grow our downtown to make it more inclusive for everyone," Brumley told members of the El Dorado Advertising and Promotion Commission on Nov. 1, the opening of the survey period.

MSE partnered with the University of Central Arkansas to draft the survey.

"We knew the questions we kind of wanted to ask but we wanted to make sure we asked them in the right way and they are great to partner with and work with," Brumley said.

The survey includes questions that gauge respondents' top three components for downtown growth and revitalization; what they like most/least about downtown El Dorado; and "the most opportunity for downtown El Dorado to focus or capitalize on for the future."

MSE launched a soft rollout of the survey near the end of October.

Brumley said participants who came to town during Airstreams on the Square, which was held Oct. 19 - 22, filled out the surveys.

The annual event is presented by MSE and the Arkansas Razorback Airstream Club and is part of a nationwide campaign to stage Main Street/urban camping events to promote the RV lifestyle and help stimulate economic development and vitality in small-town America.

El Dorado is the first and only city in Arkansas to host such an event.

Airstreams draws RVers from multiple states who spend several days camping out around the Union County Courthouse Square, participating in activities, shopping in local businesses and donating to a local charity.

A total of 50 RVs with 112 people from 11 states participated in Airstreams 2023, breaking a record of 36 from 2022, Brumley reported.

This year, campers came from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Brumley said MSE has also targeted area school students in grades 7 - 12 to fill out the survey.

By Nov. 9, nearly 900 surveys had been completed and MSE was working to include more participants ages 21 - 26.

MSE is looking to pull in at least 3,000 responses before the survey before the period closes on Nov. 19, said Brumley.

According to a 2021 census estimate, the city's population was 17,339, representing a decrease of 2.3% from the 2020 U.S. Census.

Per the 2020 Census results, 26.3% of the city's population is under the age of 18.

The 18 - 24 age demographic makes up 8.4% of the population and 25.9% of the population represent the 25 to 44 age range.

"We want as many diverse groups (as possible), so take it to your church, take it to your employees. Ask them to share it," Brumley said.

The final question on the survey, Question 11, is optional, she noted.

The question asks for the respondent's name and contract information.

"If they don't give their name, (the survey) will still count. That's just kind of if you want to be involved or if you want to help with us moving forward in any of these new ideas," Brumley explained.

"But once the survey closes on the 19th and we do have the option to open that up for another week if we feel like we haven't reached the numbers we're looking for," she continued.

Referring to questions about demographics -- age range, gender and race -- and discussions with UCA in preparing the survey, Brumley further explained that the purpose of the questions is "to make sure that we are hearing the voice for everyone."

"Because I was like, 'I don't really care if it's male or female. You can take that off ... she was like, 'Well, you kind of need to know because if halfway through, only females have filled out this form, we need to go hunt up and find out where the men are and get their opinion,'" Brumley said.

After the survey closes, UCA will compile the data into bullet points and MSE will use the date for its strategic plan to ensure that the nonprofit program maintains its accreditation with its state and national parent groups.

MSE committees, such as the design committee, will also mine the data for viable ideas and suggestions to implement downtown and make the district more inclusive, said Brumley.

To participate in the survey, visit www.uca.edu/go/eldorado.

To request a hard copy or for more information, call the MSE office at 870-862-4747 or stop by the office at 101 W. Main, Suite 410.

Hard copies made also be picked up and dropped off at the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 111 W. Main.

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