Doing Development in Arkansas
Using Credit to Create Opportunity for Entrepreneurs Outside the Mainstream
Richard P. Taub

The story of one of the most audacious and imaginative development efforts undertaken in the United States.

This is the story of the Southern Development Bancorporation, an organization established in 1988 with headquarters in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, for the purpose of stimulating economic and community development in South Arkansas. Richard P. Taub chronicles this experiment in development banking, established by Bill Clinton when he was governor. Based somewhat on the model of Shorebank Corporation, a Chicago bank-holding corporation that had achieved national recognition through its development efforts in the South Shore community, Southern was established with the assistance of the state’s leading foundation as a holding company with a set of subsidiaries designed to provide crucial credit opportunities and technical assistance missing from southern Arkansas.

Doing Development in Arkansas is a history of that program as its creators tried to find their footing in new terrain, establish trust, work with borrowers despite legal pitfalls in doing so, and attempted to create new loan and technical assistance products. It is the story of the towns themselves in which Southern tried to have a substantial impact, including Arkadelphia, Hope, Malvern, Hot Springs, and Pine Bluff. Southern was an experiment and many of its achievements were the results in some cases of trying new ideas and in others of transporting programs successful in one setting to new locations. The most dramatic example of such a move is the development of the Good Faith Fund in Pine Bluff, based on a model of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

This book has been supported by the Winthrop Rockefeller and Ford Foundations.

Doing Development in Arkansas is a richly textured case study that chronicles the evolution of a bold experiment. . . . From a ten-year observational study, Taub distills valuable lessons about the dos and don'ts of community development in a nuanced account that synthesizes insights from stakeholders ranging from greedy power brokers and optimistic would-be entrepreneurs to community development experts and local citizens.”
—Martha Tienda, board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Maurice P. During, Professor of Demographic Studies at Princeton University

“Taub’s book is a fascinating story of how the Southern Development Bancorporation experiment was launched, how it grew, and how it was transformed in its on going struggle to adapt to its rural, Southern environment. It should be required reading for all of those interested in rural community development, in rural poverty ‘wars,’ and, most particularly, those interested in the role of community development financial institutions.”
—Don Voth, professor emeritus of rural sociology, University of Arkansas


Richard P. Taub, Paul Klapper Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, headed the Southern Arkansas Rural Development Study and is the author of a number of books, including Community Capitalism, the story of the Shorebank Corporation, and Bureaucrats under Stress.


6" x 9"
200 pages, index
$29.95 (s) paper
978-1-55728-778-6 | 1-55728-778-3
$45.00 (s) cloth
978-1-55728-776-2 | 1-55728-776-7