The Center for Community and Economic Development can work directly with communities to provide a variety of customized services. Please reach out to us to learn more about the list of services below or visit our training opportunities page to see more of our work.

Community or Business Surveys

Community surveys are the foundation of any community development process. Our team will work with your community or Chamber of Commerce to develop a community or business survey that fits your unique needs. This service includes survey development, survey collection, and survey evaluation. Based on the results of your survey, we also craft “next steps” for your community or Chamber to consider moving forward.

First Impressions Tour (FIT) Assessment

First Impressions Tour (FIT) is an assessment tool that can provide a community with an unbiased perspective of its strengths and weaknesses. The assessment is truly a “first impression” of a community. A group of community leaders will swap places with one another to complete an assessment (via a day-trip) of one another’s communities using the First Impressions Tour assessment tool (developed by our team at UCA). They will then take their findings and share them via a report and virtual debrief meeting. The information gathered can be used to provide general direction for future community development efforts by identifying broad categories of community assets and/or areas for growth. A FIT assessment includes information gathered through various avenues: demographic and market data, discussion with community leaders and citizens, online assessment, and a driving tour of the community. This information is compiled into a simple report that analyzes a community’s online, physical, social, and economic infrastructure and provides a list of possible “Next Steps.”

Walk Audit

Our partners at Crafton Tull will conduct an interactive walk audit with community leaders of the selected community to develop place-making concepts and solutions for circulation (vehicular, pedestrian and bike), parking, universal access, low impact development concepts, way-finding, beautification and community character improvement. The walk audit will include one full day of one-on-one interaction and assessment of a 3×3 block area of the community’s downtown. Experts at Crafton Tull will also share a presentation with the community that will focus on accessibility in the built environment to the walk audit attendees. The presentation will discuss best practice site planning methods with respect to complete streets, accessible parking, crosswalks, sidewalks, trails, and other circulation facilities. The session will leave time for questions and answers on specific design considerations in the walk audit location. Finally, Crafton Tull will generate a brief summary and share it with community leaders.

Strategic Doing 

Strategic Doing is an innovative community development tool that, unlike traditional strategic planning, focuses on immediate, impactful small wins and goals to create transformation in communities. Strategic Doing enables people to form collaborations quickly, guide them toward measurable outcomes and make adjustments along the way. Strategic Doing enables leaders to design and guide new networks that generate innovative solutions. It is a new strategy discipline that is lean, agile, and fast – which is what communities need to survive and thrive in our current global economy. Learn more here!

Community Branding

In partnership with Thrive, we work with communities to assist them in undergoing a branding development process. Included in this service is a branding workshop, tagline, logo, brand standards guide, one-page summary document, and other supplemental materials. Selected communities are expected to provide passionate community members to lead this process, venues for meetings, and potential refreshments for meetings.

Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Program Development

Interested in developing a BR&E program for your community? Our BR&E toolkit is designed for small to mid-sized communities and will walk you through the foundational steps of developing a robust BR&E plan.

Student Service Projects

Looking for a group of volunteers to energize your efforts and provide fresh ideas? CCED staff can work with UCA to conduct a service or project for the betterment of your community. The Center for Community & Economic Development offers a fellowship program for UCA graduates and current students. Learn more here!