Waldron is a city in Scott County, Arkansas, located near the Oklahoma border and Fort Smith, Arkansas. The City of Waldron, Arkansas, was selected to participate in the Community Sustainability Program with Communities Unlimited.
In the spring of 2020, CU held training for Waldron community leadership called WealthWorks. WealthWorks is a framework for doing economic development differently and is recognized around the country for a process that focuses on community assets, not deficiencies. After completing the training, the community facilitator had each team identify local assets.
Through these processes, CU assisted Waldron in identifying the opportunities where they had the most challenges. They came up with three areas of focus, Business Compassion, Community Center and Housing. With CU’s guidance, Waldron developed a plan for the three areas.
- Business Compassion – They will work with the Chamber of Commerce on capacity development to make entrepreneurs and small business owners a high priority. The team identified several projects that, when implemented, will facilitate training for knowledge and skill-building, workforce development, networking and expansion of new business in the community.
- Community Center – Although Waldron already has a Boys and Girls Club, they want to explore the development of a Waldron Community Center. A community center would provide a wide variety of services. It could be structured to offer after-school, summer childcare, serve seniors, a food bank, adult learning services and much more.
- Housing – Housing has been a recurring theme with the Waldron Community Leadership Team. Issues such as affordable housing, abandoned housing, low real estate inventory and low new build inventory have been discussed.
The team agreed that they would like to address some aspects of these challenges with housing. A way to address housing was identified within the Waldron School District. Based on the Superintendent of Waldron Schools’ suggestions, the team envisioned a project that would address many of their housing issues. The program created incorporates skilled trades, workforce development, affordable housing development, youth leadership development, real estate inventory and rehabilitating abandoned housing.
A great deal of important work has already been completed in Waldron. The progress made is a strong foundation for the local leadership team to build economic and community development in Waldron. The team is implementing strategies to identify solutions for other opportunities. The team will likely revisit early community discussions and bring additional community members into the process. As the work continues in Waldron, CU will focus on connecting working groups to resources. CU will continue to support them in accomplishing their goals to build sustainable programs that promote sustainable impact in the community.