Favorite

Influential Arkansans 

We highlight more than 50 who shape our state.

Page 9 of 24

It is not a stretch to say that John Gaudin was the prime mover, the sower of seeds that have transformed downtown North Little Rock in the past eight years. And the changes he wrought — giving the railroad town's Main Street a new identity as arts district — might have happened in Little Rock instead.

"North Little Rock was so far off my radar" when he was looking for new office space that would allow him to have a gallery along with his investment consulting business, Gaudin said, sitting at a table in his office over Cregeen's at Broadway and Main, a building he constructed to fit in with Argenta's historic buildings. "I had no idea what was here — all these cool buildings."

Gaudin, 56, a native of Lafayette, La., who moved to Arkansas in 1982, was methodical in what some might have considered madness, this goal to bring in the arts and chic housing to an old downtown whose mercantile bustle was fading. He hired an architect to "plot out, building by building" what a successful arts-based business district might look like. With investors Harold Tenenbaum and Greg Nabholz (doing business as The New Argenta Fund, The Mill LLC and other entities), he began to buy and transform buildings and lots on and off Main that are now home to the Thea Foundation, the Argenta Community Theater, Starving Artist Cafe and City Grove Townhomes; he's also bought the former Mountaire Feeds property, to one day be developed for a hotel. His fingerprints are all over the Argenta Downtown Council, a mini-chamber of commerce/city beautiful group for the neighborhood, and the Argenta Arts Foundation.

Gaudin's newest project: the North Little Rock Moon Shot project to raise educational achievement, involving the A+ School program embraced and promoted by the Thea Foundation, the federal City Year program and a new creation, Art Connection, an arts-based teen afterschool and jobs program modeled on the Artists for Humanity project in Boston. He's a believer in arts as good for the soul, good for young minds, and not bad for business, either.

KEITH JACKSON
At-risk kids

Keith Jackson's earlier claim to fame was his football career. He was a tight end for the University of Oklahoma and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Jackson went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers. But since 1993, Jackson has come to be known for the non-profit organization he started in Southwest Little Rock to help at-risk teen-agers. Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids (PARK) offers a place for students who may be struggling with school or a violent environment a safe place to study and play. Jackson said students who come in with a 1.5 GPA may improve their grades — and attitude — so much that they can go to college. Today, there are 175 PARK graduates enrolled in college. Jackson said the PARK program started as a vision from God. (In a 2003 interview, when asked how he knew he was hearing God's voice, Jackson said, "Hey, I'm a football player ... it couldn't be from me.") Jackson wanted to be "more than just a football player," and was concerned about teen violence. With a current enrollment of 250 students and countless changed lives, Jackson proudly reflects on the program saying, "PARK has done as much for me as I've done for it." He's also still part of the sports world; he's a commentator for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

KEITH NEWTON
Woodworking

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Trump proposes an unconstitutional ban on flag burning, revoking citizenship

    Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, this morning made a public statement, via Twitter, that the flag burning should be disallowed by law: "there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Cover Stories

  • Vive la resistance!

    House Minority Leader Michael John Gray wants to chair the Democratic Party of Arkansas. His plan to lead the party back to relevance: Start listening to Arkansas again.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • A new day for child welfare?

    After strategizing for months, DHS officials have a plan to address Arkansas's foster care crisis.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Jeff Nichols, 'Loving' and the space in between

    The Little Rock native turns to an unheralded chapter of the civil rights era with his new film.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Learn about one of the wildest oil booms in history in Smackover

Learn about one of the wildest oil booms in history in Smackover

This small south Arkansas city was once one of the top oil producers in the nation.

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Ruth Coker Burks, the cemetery angel

    • Thank you, Ruth! Thank you.

    • on December 2, 2016
  • Re: Art in America

    • I have being hearing about this blank ATM card for a while and i never…

    • on December 2, 2016
  • Re: Asa and Trump

    • I have being hearing about this blank ATM card for a while and i never…

    • on December 2, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation