It’s important for our entire community to be involved. We start by engaging our community to be involved in any way possible: centralized planning meetings, smaller community meetings, surveys, and by becoming directly involved.


To understand how we should move forward, we begin by taking a look at our community’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (aka SWOT analysis). This helps us to build out a framework on which we can build a strategic plan.


After a thorough SWOT analysis, we can turn those items into goals and action steps. Those, in turn, guide us towards building out goal teams and committees. These goal teams and committees are vital.

All of this helps us gather the best ideas from the community to create our plan.

In 2009, we created a new 10 year plan with

Individuals from
Phillips County
Large Planning
Months of
This produced our 2010-2020 Strategic Community Plan.

The second generation plan was developed over seven months of intensive planning. Each Goal Team updated their individual Mission Statements, and SWOT analyses were divided into program categories to allow Goal Teams to easily access this information. Planning sessions were held in multiple townships and institutions to increase community participation.

Our First Generation Plan Involved

Individuals from
Phillips County
Large Planning
Smaller Meetings
This is the kind of scale that yields community-driven vision.

Those of us involved in our planning process ranged from hard-working locals, to business leaders, to politicians. Together, we organized for the greatest collective impact.

Goal Teams

Our goal teams drive the implementation of goals and action steps in our Strategic Plan.

Program Benchmarks for 2015

We are committed to working with our community partners through the strategic planning process to achieve Southern Bancorp’s 20-year transformational goals of reducing poverty, unemployment, and high school incompletion rates in the communities we serve. To ensure that our work results in life-changing impacts, we are establishing measurable indicators, or metrics, to track our work and evaluate each community’s progress toward these goals.

The provisional benchmarks below illustrate this concept and our commitment:


Education: ACT Scores
Helena-West Helena School District 16.5
State of Arkansas 20.9
ACT score variance 4.4
Program Benchmark: Reduce the variance between state and local average ACT scores by 1.1 points
High School Graduation
Helena-West Helena School District* 56.5%
State of Arkansas 68%
High School Graduation Rate Variance 11.5%
Program Benchmark: Reduce the variance between state and local graduation rates by 3%
College Remediation Rates
Helena-West Helena School District 87%
State of Arkansas 48.1%
College Remediation Rate Variance 38.9%
Program Benchmark: Reduce the variance between state and local remediation rates by 10%
Economic Development: Unemployment percentage
Phillips County 9.0%
State of Arkansas 7.3%
Unemployment Variance 1.7%
Program Benchmark: Reduce the variance between state and Phillips County rate by .5%
Poverty Rate
Phillips County 35.7%
State of Arkansas 16.9%
Poverty Variance 18.8%
Program Benchmark: Reduce the variance between the state and Phillips County poverty rates by 5%

Sources: Education data, 2009, AR Department of Education; Unemployment data, 2009, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Poverty data, 2008 3-year moving average, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, US Census.