About Pine Bluff
Pine Bluff is the seat of Jefferson County and one of Arkansas’ most historic communities. It was founded in 1819 by Joseph Boone on a bluff by the Arkansas River where he opened a trading post. That modest center of commercial activity grew into Pine Bluff, which by 1899 ranked fourth in business value for African American businessmen.
Today, Pine Bluff has a population of 41,000, and though its economy has receded from its 20th century peak, it is full of dynamic energy to restore the legacy of African American entrepreneurialism in the region,
Pine Bluff is a city flush with nature, sports, technology, education, dining, and entertainment assets. Delta Rivers Nature Center, Byrd Lake Natural Area, Lake Saracen, and walking and hiking trails offer beautiful recreation, and the Arkansas River remains popular with largemouth bass and catfish anglers. In 2019, the much-anticipated $12 million indoor Pine Bluff Aquatic Center complex opened to serve all of southeast Arkansas. The city is also home to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), an 1890 Land-Grant HBCU, and Southeast Arkansas College, a two-year community college.
Also in Pine Bluff is the Art and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, which serves as a cultural crossroad — engaging, educating, and entertaining through the arts and sciences. The Pine Bluff Convention Center houses the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, a free museum that traces the history of the many talented Arkansans who have made a lasting impact on America’s entertainment industry. Most recently, the Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma has returned to its ancestral land to open the Saracen Casino Resort.
To revitalize the 10th-largest city in Arkansas — known as the gateway to southeast Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta — hundreds of volunteers spent 2016 coming up with a 27-point blueprint that became the Go Forward Pine Bluff (GFPB) Plan. In June 2017, a modest sales tax increase passed to fund the implementation of the GFPB plan’s recommendations, which included an innovation hub to make the city and the region an economic engine for southeast Arkansas. This innovation hub is now known as The Generator.
The Generator works in two primary areas: Entrepreneurship and digital skills. To support entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs, The Generator offers a co-working space, workshops, one-on-one consulting, events, and in March 2021 launched a 12-week program about creating a business.
A new facility on Main Street houses a digital makerspace, and a digital space with the latest in technology, with the goal of raising the level of digital skills in the community as The Generator works to develop digital economy ecosystem strategies that center on growing the economy with digital jobs, technical skill-building, and entrepreneurship. The Generator’s long-term impact goal for the community is job creation and stimulation of the economy. Its legacy impact goal is generational wealth.
What RIN means to Pine Bluff
“Being a member of the Rural Innovation Network has been enormously beneficial to the work of developing digital economy ecosystem strategies to move Pine Bluff from the industrial age to the connected age.”
Mildred Franco, The Generator, an Innovation hub powered by GFPB
Explore our Network
Today, these local leaders are focused on educating and training local residents in digital skills (especially those traditionally excluded from the tech industry), employing them in new economy jobs, and empowering them to launch startups that will drive a prosperous 21st-century economy. Diverse in geography, economic origin, and demographics, these communities represent the full spectrum of rural America.