Stuttgart (AR) Unlimited – Economic Development Strategic Plan

ChallengeStuttgart, like much of rural America, has faced an erosion of its population and employment bases during the past decade with the loss of its younger people to larger metropolitan areas. To confront this obstacle, Stuttgart Unlimited, a consortium of private industry employers, charged TIP with developing an economic development vision for the city with effective strategies.

ApproachThe consulting team held four workshops with the Stuttgart Unlimited steering committee and received input from over 50 Stuttgart citizens through interviews, focus group meetings, and a written survey. Topic areas for the focus group meetings included housing, education, infrastructure, tourism, retail, research, and agribusiness. To fully understand development opportunities in Stuttgart, the team conducted an economic assessment of the area. As part of this assessment, the community was compared to other rural communities facing similar challenges. Input received from the workshops, focus group meetings, and interviews was combined with the assessment to develop an analysis of Stuttgart’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). In addition to the conventional SWOT approach, the resulting plan looked closely at other issues affecting Stuttgart’s economic vitality, such as a lack of local housing options and amenities, as well as an underdeveloped downtown.

OutcomeTIP identified Stuttgart’s key challenges to developing its economy and crafted realistic strategies and supporting action items to address these concerns. Strategies included strengthening the city’s status as a regional trade center, focusing efforts toward business retention and expansion, and leveraging its capacity for outdoor recreation. Specific recommendations included adopting a comprehensive plan, revitalizing the city’s historic downtown, pursuing progressive financing strategies for housing development, leveraging the growth of the regional hospital, and initiating a Leadership Stuttgart program to prepare Stuttgart citizens for future positions of leadership in the community.

TIP Contact Tom Stellman

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Photo credit Joseph A.