Posted on January 19, 2018
By Tia Lyons
MAD: Employees with the Murphy Arts District reveal El Dorado as the Trendsetter City 2017 winner for cities with a population of 5,000 to 20,000. The Trendsetter City program is designed to honor cities that are leaders in innovative programs and initiatives for improvement and growth. Pictured from left are: El Dorado Mayor Frank Hash, MAD President and Chief Operating Officer Austin Barrow, Councilwoman Dianne Hammond, MAD Chief Financial Officer Pam Griffin and MAD Chief Marketing Officer Bob Tarren.
In the years and months leading to its grand opening last October, the Murphy Arts District generated buzz across the state and grabbed headlines around the nation.
Now, that buzz has resulted in a statewide award and major news that was announced during the El Dorado City Council meeting on Thursday.
El Dorado won the bid to host the 2019 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
The news came after Mayor Frank Hash presented MAD representatives with a plaque naming MAD as the Arkansas Business Trendsetter City for 2017.
The category was for Arkansas cities with a population of 5,000 — 20,000.
Hash accepted the award on behalf of MAD during the Arkansas Municipal League Winter Conference, which was held last week in Fort Smith.
Several city officials attended the conference.
On hand to receive the plaque from Hash on Thursday were MAD representatives Austin Barrow, president and chief operating officer; Bob Tarren, chief marketing officer; and Pamela Griffin, chief financial officer.
The Trendsetter City award honors cities that are leaders in innovative programs and initiatives for improvement and growth, according to Arkansas Business.
The awards are presented by Crews and Associates investment banking firm.
The goal of the $100-plus million MAD project is to transform El Dorado into an entertainment destination by renovating several downtown properties into a variety of arts, music, dining and recreation venues, which include the Griffin restaurant and music hall and the adjacent outdoor amphitheater on the south end of Downtown El Dorado.
The district opened last October with five days of concerts that featured a mix of popular new- and old-school artists, including Smokey Robinson, Ludacris, Train, Lyle Lovett and Migos.
The massive project is being done in two phases, with a children’s playscape and open-air market nearing completion as the last
remaining components of Phase 1 and the renovation of the Rialto Theater and the McWilliams’ building (on the corner of Washington and Locust) to come in Phase 2.