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Texarkana Region

Best of Texarkana

The Texarkana region is known for famous faces, places and Defense Arms races.

Presidential candidates Ross Perot and Mike Huckabee hail from Texarkana, and Ellen DeGeneres graduated from a Texarkana-area high school. Other famous Texarkana natives include Otis Williams, booming baritone and founder of The Temptations and the late 1950s singer/songwriter Jessie Belvin, who wrote “Earth Angel.” If you’re a ragtime piano fan, know that “The Entertainer” Scott Joplin hailed from Texarkana.

PGA Tour pro golfer Miller Barber was a Texarkana native, as are St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha and NFL wide receiver Joe Anderson.

Downtown Texarkana has played host to both musicians and gangsters. The now-famous biography of Johnny Cash, Walk the Line, highlights the night when Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley shared the same stage, at the recently restored, Municipal Auditorium. The Grim Hotel, currently undergoing a $26 million restoration, hosted such nefarious overnight guests as Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger.

BBQ lovers need look no further as good eating is available at locally owned establishments including Silver Star Smokehouse & Saloon, Naaman’s Championship BBQ, Randy’s BBQ and Big Jake’s BBQ.

Those thirsty for a cold one can look to locally-brewed RedBone Magic Brewery and Pecan Point craft beer. O’Ferrell’s Country Vineyard and Red Road Winery, a Texas wine club, also call the Texarkana region home.

After a craft-brewed RedBone ale, stout or IPA or a glass of O’Farrell’s best, the Perot Theater – originally dubbed Gateway to the West Theatre – offers audiences a classic 1924 venue that was fully restored in 1979-80. The theatre is owned by the City of Texarkana, Texas and operated by the Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Council. The Council partners with private industry to restore buildings and has develop museum district in the downtown.

Located amid the Piney Woods, the Texarkana region offers a rare and wonderful bounty of lakes, green space and forestry where hardwoods grow nearly as quickly as softwoods. The region offers picturesque, relaxing and meaningful settings in which to retreat, relax and recharge. An impressive collection of federal, state and local recreational assets are waiting to be explored within a 90-minute drive.

There are numerous employment opportunities in the defense sector in the greater Texarkana region as the region is home to the Red River Army Depot, a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility; Barksdale Air Force Base, and the burgeoning Cybersecurity industry.  Speaking for races, racing enthusiasts no doubt knows Texarkana, Texas for the Texarkana 67 Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt track that hosts wheeled competitors from sprint cars to motorcycles.

We offer faces, places and all-kinds of races wrapped in a vibrant, developing and redeveloping community that welcomes businesses to locate and thrive.

Welcome home to the Texarkana region.

Downtown Texarkana is experiencing a reawakening; it is being redesigned into an arts-focused, pedestrian-friendly promenade that is uniting residents individual tastes and the district’s historic components.

Perot Theatre, Regional Arts Center, murals of Scott Joplin and other local legends, pocket museums, enhanced shopping and dining are all part of the cultural resurgence. Native Texas sculptor George Tobolowsky’s commissioning to design public art space as focal points for downtown – paired with a pulsating nightlife offering a number of live venues catering to all tastes – demonstrates this energetic revival.

The most poppin’ city in East Texas, Texarkana’s music scene is sizzling with gansta rap.

East Texas rappers abound. The Texarkana region is home to nearly one dozen performing rap musicians, each promoting a signature flavor of gangsta-style hip-hop that raises awareness of inner-city issues and the emotions and perspectives borne from these experiences.

Smooty, TKay Barbie (Gangsta Barbie), Big MOON, OverThrowed Money Gang, Foolie Don, Sgt B, Scrooge Mayne, Quon Quon and LCB are regulars on the streets of Texarkana.

These artists say they’re working to increase unity between varying races – both in Texarkana, Texas and in its twin city, Texarkana, Arkansas – with lyrics and rhythms reflective of this mission.

Livin’ the life and keepin’ it Texan, in the words of Foolie Don, is what Texarkana’s gansta rappers are about. A palpable “city feel” exists in the music scene across Texarkana, Texas, according to Quon Quon, compared with a “country feel” in adjacent Texarkana, Arkansas.

The artists agree that Dallas and Houston’s gansta rap community has influenced their original performances and recordings that are being created right here in Texarkana.

Although each rapper feels his or her own sway, slang and sounds, Texarkana’s up and coming rappers agree that what they’re offering those who live and work in the city is “sizzle.”

Texarkana is where ragtime master Scott Joplin spent his formative years learning to play the honky-tonk ragtime piano, where Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash performed as they swung through town on the Louisiana Hayride, where player piano legend Conlon Nancarrow grew up and near where Eagles giant Don Henley stirred his love affair with rock music.

Otis Williams of the Temptations was born here, and East Texas is considered the birthplace of rockabilly and boogie woogie music. Lead Belly, the blues great, was born nearby and launched his career here.

Clearly, when you add the pieces together, there’s something about this wider Texarkana region that seems to produce pioneering musicians whose contributions create a rich, dynamic fabric woven through the Texarkana and East Texas culture and heritage.

All of this has prompted Texarkana to dream big and claim the region as the perfect home for a new symbol to celebrate this heritage: The Regional Music Heritage Center.

The Texarkana region is located within the center of the enchanting Piney Woods, a virgin coniferous forest spanning nearly 55,000 square miles. Piney Woods includes the Big Thicket National Preserve (recognized as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO), four national parks and six state parks, one of whom – Atlanta State Park – is located just south of Texarkana.

Eighty-foot-tall pine trees greet visitors, their majestic stature in context with the region’s enormous, numerous pristine lakes including Millwood Lake, Greyson Lake and others.

Atlanta State Park’s 1,475 acres are situated on Lake Wright Patman in Cass County, just a few miles southwest of Texarkana. Contrasting seasonal colors of terrain, lake sunsets, plentiful pine and oak forests provide a picturesque backdrop for individuals, families and companies searching for the ideal retreat setting. Abundant bird and wildlife species surrounded by woodland plants offer stellar opportunities to escape and recharge. Campsites near Wright Patman Lake that are patrolled by park rangers 24/7 invite overnighters to enjoy a safe and serene experience.

Those who fish will find crappie, largemouth bass, white bass, trout and several species of sunfish in the lakes and streams of the Piney Woods. Recreational anglers may also reap a healthy number of channel, blue and flathead catfish. The lakes offer swimming and boating with plentiful areas nearby for bicycling and barbecuing.

Near Atlanta State Park in the town of Jefferson, an early river port, visitors can tour antebellum homes and enjoy shopping and dining.  The region offers the ability to stand in within the community of Three States, where one can stand in Texas and Arkansas while touching Louisiana.

The Caddo Indians, known as the most culturally advanced tribe in Texas, once made the Piney Woods region their home. The Caddos lived in the area peacefully as farmers, in contrast with the nomadic Apaches and Comanches. Excavations in the Piney Woods region conducted by the Smithsonian Institute have produced graves, artifacts and evidence of a house patterns with molds intact.

The region has hiking and biking trails galore with miles of hard-surface trails and soft-surface trails ready for you to explore.  The trail systems in the region are being linked together and to lakes, parks, schools, churches, golf courses, downtown and commercial districts.

The greater Texarkana region is home to patriots, military bases and defense contractors. The Red River Army Depot (RRAD) is located adjacent to TexAmericas Center and is about 15 minutes west of Texarkana in Bowie County, Texas. The military base spans 15,375 acres. Barksdale Airforce Base is here, as is the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant. Two former military bases being redeveloped in the region are Highland Industrial Park (former Naval Operations Camden-Shumaker) and TexAmericas Center (former Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant and parts of the Red River Army Depot).

Red River Army Depot is the first Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) facility to achieve Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Status. Achieving VPP shows a continued commitment to outstanding occupational safety and health. In addition, RRAD was the first depot within the Army Material Command to achieve ISO 9000:2001 certification throughout all administrative and production processes. The depot also possesses a longstanding ISO 14001:2004 registration for Environmental Management Systems. Red River Army Depot not only supports the Army but also provides inter-service support to the Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy’s repair and overhaul programs. Team RRAD is fully committed to productivity, quality and cost effectiveness to ensure its place as a vital partner within the Department of Defense.

Activated in 1941 to create an ammunition storage and tank repair facility during World War II, Red River Army Depot has the capacity and capability of completely overhauling and remanufacturing combat systems and tactical vehicles to support ongoing joint transformation. Although destined to be deactivated per 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, the greater Texarkana community rallied together and convinced the federal government commission to change its recommendation and ultimately supported keeping RRAD open due to the vital military support operations it fulfills.

More than 3,500 people work at the base for the DOD along with about 1,500 contractors.  These patriots remanufacture combat vehicles such as the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle. The base has more than 1,400 buildings, eight million square feet of floor space and 16 tenant organizations. RRAD is part of the Organic Industrial Base that supports and equips members of the Joint Forces. The depot also continues to support soldiers in the field with deployments to Southwest Asia to maintain various vehicle systems and components. RRAD has deployed more than 5,000 civilians to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq in direct support of Army personnel in the field.

Red River Army Depot provides national defense and security, enhancing the economic vitality of the region and welcoming new patriots to join its operations

Texarkana is a major east-west and north-south rail center, with more than 125 trains per day passing through the community, it is the front door to Texas.

Union Pacific (UP), BNSF Railway, Kansas City Southern (KCS), Texas Northeastern Railroad (TNER) – a Genesee & Wyoming company – and Amtrak (with daily stops) provide rail service to the Texarkana market. Mainline freight action on both the UP and KCS lines, include unit and intermodal trains, plus daily Amtrak Texas Eagle service. The Amtrak Texarkana stop is located at the east end of Texarkana Union Station, a historic beige brick structure built in 1930. When stopped at the station, it is said the Texas Eagle straddles the state line between Arkansas and Texas.

UP has an active switch yard located in Texarkana. The yard builds some 30-unit-sized trains daily and has a maximum capacity of 750 cars. UP owned rail connects with TexAmericas Center’s 36-miles of owned track on the north and south side of TAC’s East Campus. UP leases the track it owns on the north side of TAC’s East and Central Campus to TNER. G&W, parent company of TNER, is the largest owner of short-line rail companies in the world. UP allows BNSF track rights to serve RRAD.  TexAmericas Center offers access to rail, transload services and cross-dock facilities that connect directly to UP and TNER.

A large rail car storage yard is located on the TAC’s Eastern footprint. It is operated by Lone Star Rail Car Storage (LCRCS). Storage, switching and tender service area readily available onsite.

Transload services are available through Springs Creek Enterprises to any company operating within the greater Texarkana region. TAC has an interest in expanding this service offering. A former Army transload facility, located on TAC’s East Campus, is a potential site for an upgraded multi-commodity transload facility.

KCS has a smaller switch yard in Texarkana. Most of KCS’ activity occurs at the Port of (Shreveport) Caddo-Bossier in Northwest Louisiana, 75 miles south of Texarkana. A KCS and UP interchange is also in Shreveport.

Texarkana offers access to world-class universities, colleges, vocational schools and K-12 school systems. Now known as a college town, the Texarkana region boasts over 10,000 college and university students. Enrollments are growing at an increasing rate, creating untapped pipelines of skilled talent.

Enrollment at Texas A&M University-Texarkana is growing annually at double digit rates, and enrollment at University of Arkansas – Texarkana has grown 15% over the last five years.  Texarkana College touts the highest 3-year, full-time student completion rate of all 50 Texas Community Colleges.

Texarkana College equips students and working professionals in a healthy number of industrial and manufacturing training programs. All students enrolled in the Texarkana College Workforce Programs are required to successfully complete a semester-long Work Ethics course prior to graduation.  The college has a local advisory board comprised of local business professionals for each vocation program it offers. These boards consult and advise instructors and program coordinators on course and program content and industry trends. Most of Texarkana College’s vocational programs are Level I,12-month certificates.

Whether you prefer a big city school or small rural education environment, the Texarkana region offers a learning atmosphere in which your child can excel. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programming is a principal focus throughout local school districts. Through dual credit course agreements, many graduating seniors begin their college careers at a sophomore level. Texarkana’s public schools offer industrial/vocational training that’s complementary to manufacturing. The Texarkana region also offers apprenticeship programs via the IBEW District 7 Electrical Training Alliance and the Southwestern Line Constructors Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program.

Additional training partners located in the 90-mile Texarkana region surrounding TAC include: Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia; SAU-Tech Airframe & Power Plant School at Texarkana Regional Airport; University of Arkansas Community College at Hope; University of Arkansas Community College at Cossatot; University of Arkansas – Medical Science at Texarkana; University of Arkansas – Little Rock at Texarkana; and Northeast Texas Community College at Mt. Pleasant.