The Federal Office of Management and Budget has abandoned the idea of increasing the size of metropolitan statistical areas (MSA’s) which would have affected a number of Arkansas communities including Pine Bluff.

The plan called for changing the population of areas from 50,000 to 100,000 and while an existing MSA may have had a population of more than 100,000, if its core did not, it would have lost MSA designation.

Arkansas Business reported that the proposed regulation would have downgraded the status of Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Texarkana, and Pine Bluff.

U.S. Senator John Boozman announced the news Wednesday. Boozman was one of 75 legislators including Fourth District Congressman Bruce Westerman and Senator Tom Cotton to oppose the change.

In a statement, Westerman said “I commend OMB’s decision to honor my request to reverse course on this harmful rule change that would have stymied the continued development of 144 communities in 45 states and Puerto Rico.”

(See Westerman’s full statement on Deltaplex News.)

Allison Thompson, President and CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County and Chamber of Commerce, told Arkansas Business, “We were one of the voices saying we didn’t want it changed, and we’re very pleased at the support we got from Congressman Westerman and Senator Boozman and everybody else.”

Thompson continued, “It was not going to be good for us, as well as other chamber execs and economic developers within our state as well as around the nation. Actually, we all pulled together. It would’ve negatively affected our folks involved in transportation planning as well, so it was just, it was just a bad deal.”