Garland County Economic Development Corporation (AR) – Economic Development Strategic Plan

ChallengeThrough most of its history, downtown was a major destination for tourism and economic activity within Hot Springs. Its proximity to Hot Springs National Park (the first in the nation) and the presence of Bathhouse Row drew visitors to the region for over a century. But, downtown Hot Springs has lost much of its luster. Historic structures are in need of investment; ground-floor retail space is underutilized; and the upper stories for most buildings remain vacant. Moreover, development sites for industrial recruitment are limited within Hot Springs and the immediately surrounding area, due to topographic and access constraints.

ApproachThe Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce/Garland County Economic Development Corporation hired TIP Strategies to craft a new economic development strategic plan for Garland County and the surrounding region. The rationale for a regional approach was due to the recognition that the greater region’s economic health is largely dependent on Hot Springs’ success. TIP assembled a team that considered not only economic development strategies but also marketing and fundraising elements for the chamber.

OutcomeThe result of an intense year-long effort was a detailed assessment of specific projects and development options, new target industries for recruitment, an entrepreneurship strategy, and quality of life amenities. This plan will work to 1) re-energize downtown Hot Springs, 2) develop new business sites and coordinate economic development regionwide; 3) advance cluster development through entrepreneurship and targeted business recruitment; and 4) enhance Hot Springs’ quality of place and talent pool.

TIP Contact Jon Roberts

Photo credit Fetchcomms