Centrally located in Arkansas and near the state’s capitol, the City of Cabot is well positioned to attract the abundance of young people who are looking to settle down, purchase a home, and possibly start a family. Cabot’s small-town feel and quality public education system are two characteristics that already draw individuals to this community. However, the citizens of Cabot want to increase entertainment options for themselves and to potential residents by revitalizing their downtown and developing fun and diverse amenities that will serve the entire community. This plan serves as the guide for the City of Cabot to grow tourism and in doing so increase their economic development.
Determined residents of Cabot attended the Uncommon Communities program put on by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute in Morrilton, AR. Through this cohort, they were able to meet other rural communities throughout Arkansas that shared the same desire to enhance the culture of their towns. During one of the workshops conducted by Alchemy team, two of Cabot’s residents were immediately drawn to the concept of creative placemaking and believed this could help them initiate the community development they wanted to see occur in Cabot.
In order to collect as much information as possible, a collaboration between the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and Alchemy was formed and graduate student, Megan Grubb, was able to serve as an “on-the-ground” contact for the community. She led visioning sessions and conducted interviews with community leaders, which allowed her to connect with over 200 Cabot residents. By listening to local business owners, nonprofits, Cabot High School students, city officials, religious leaders, teachers, and every-day residents, the information Megan collected would lead to an inclusive and comprehensive action plan that identifies three main projects.
The visioning sessions led us from a children’s day care center to a farm-to-table restaurant and around again to a cultural center. Ultimately, through the ideas collected from the community (over 500 residents were interviewed as part of this process) we landed on these three major concepts to create:
- Cultural Center
- A new branding, wayfinding, and public art plan for the City of Cabot
- A festival audit of Cabot’s two major events: the Strawberry Festival in April and CabotFest in October
This action plan would not have come together without the generous guidance and ideas of the Boyette Study that was completed recently. That study and this plan will lead to more opportunities for tourism in and around Cabot.
A New Group in Town
Becky Williams, a new Cabot resident and local photographer, and John Rudd, insurance executive and staple of the Cabot business scene, have only known each other for a short while, but you’d never know it once you meet them. They feed off each other’s energy forming a perfect duo, infecting everyone they meet with their passion and excitement to move Cabot forward. Together with several other residents, they worked tirelessly to establish the Cabot Foundation for Arts and Culture (CFAC). The vision was theirs to begin with and CFAC helped form the steering committee for this project. CFAC, a non-profit, will ultimately lead the project moving forward and help execute the concepts here.
A collaboration was formed between CFAC, the Chamber and the Mayor’s office called Cabot 2025. The ideas in this plan are to be executed by 2025 and led by the three municipal and non-profit groups, all working in concert for the greater good of the community. Their leadership will be what makes Cabot 2025 successful and will lead to greater tourism and economic development.
Cabot Creative Center
Concept: Cabot Creative Center
Location: Old Downtown Fire Station
Included: Performance/ Event Space, Culinary Space/ Restaurant, Classroom, Art Gallery
Beautification (Public Art & Wayfinding)
Concept: Beautification Efforts
Included: Public Art Strategy, Locations, and Concepts; Wayfinding Strategy and Branding
Concept: Additional Community Festivals
Included: Developing a Festival Committee, Strategy to Determine Festival Events and Timeline