Blytheville, established as lumber mill town in the 1880s, has also served as a center for the cotton-growing industry, a Strategic Air Command (SAC) airbase and a gateway city for the Natural State. The airbase was phased out years ago, but Blytheville has emerged as a steel production center and agri-business is strong. Places to visit include the Ritz Civic Center, a restored opera house on Main Street that stages live shows throughout the year, and Blytheville's Heritage Museum, which explores the past with exhibits and photos. The downtown area is alive with interesting shops, including "That Book Store," a favorite stop of Arkansas native and award-winning novelist John Grisham. Arkansas Northeastern College (formally Mississippi County Community College) schedules cultural events throughout the year. Blytheville is also the site of an Arkansas Welcome Center (I-55).