Bennie Ryburn III

Bennie Ryburn III, of Monticello, has been named 2012 Volunteer of the Year by the Arkansas Economic Developers (AED), a statewide organization of economic development professionals and community leaders.

Ryburn, president of the Monticello Economic Development Commission, continually dedicates his time, talent and energy into growing and improving Monticello and Drew County, according to news release from the Arkansas Economic Developers announcing Ryburn’s selection as Volunteer of the year.

Ryburn is a successful business man who could sit on the sidelines, but that would be against his nature. His love for Monticello and Drew County has compelled him to roll-up his sleeves and work for their future. From the beginning, Bennie has encouraged the pursuit of projects and initiatives which will lift up the community. His support is typically underscored by a reassurance such as “I’ve got your back.” To a local economic developer, that support is worth more than gold, according to the news release.

Ryburn’s work has included researching the timber holdings around Lake Monticello for the city. He worked with the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s School of Forrest Resources to develop a timber management plan for this property. This plan insures the health of the forest is maintained and it produces revenue for the city from tree harvesting.

Ryburn also pushed for the city of Monticello to use nuisance property ordinances as a tool to leverage a renewed investment in residential and commercial real estate.  As a result, our neighborhoods are cleaner, safer and our real estate values have been stable even through the housing crisis.  These works have produced a community which is the shining star of southeast Arkansas, according to the news release.

While rural communities across our great state have struggled with declining population and the blight of poverty, Monticello has gained population and our citizens from lowest income to highest income have a community they can be proud of. This is a direct result of the Ryburn’s initiatives and work. he is solely responsible for the Ridgeway Monticello which has served the purpose of reinvigorating Monticello’s downtown, according to the news release.

Ryburn was presented with the award Tuesday at an awards luncheon at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers where the late Maria Luisia M. Haley, former executive director to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Lou Ann Nisbett, president/CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, was recognized as the 2012 Outstanding Economic Developer.