Vilonia Community Catalyst Program and Survey Results

Vilonia Strategic Doing Workshop

We invite you to join your friends and neighbors for the Vilonia Community Catalyst Strategic Doing Workshop on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Vilonia City Hall. Lunch will be provided.


This workshop is designed to develop collaboration among the citizens of Vilonia to create actionable, tangible goals to move Vilonia towards a brighter future. Everyone in attendance will play a role in generating change in our community and you will come out of the workshop with a community project that you will be a part of!


What is the Community Catalyst program?

Vilonia has been selected to be a part of the Community Catalyst program, which will assist two Arkansas communities in Entergy Arkansas’ service territory with grassroots citizen engagement and technical assistance training to develop small, actionable community and economic development goals and to serve as a catalyst for longer-term economic development priorities.

This program is facilitated by our team at the UCA Center for Community and Economic Development in partnership with Entergy Arkansas. The Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University is also a key partner in the program.

This program involves engaging with citizens and leaders to understand the needs and goals of the community, and defines a path to achieve those goals through citizen-led community development efforts. The first step in the process is to complete a community survey. Vilonia completed its community survey with 1,249 residents participating (results below). The next step in the process will be hosting a workshop utilizing the Strategic Doing process to put the priorities lined out in the survey into action. Strategic Doing enables people to form collaborations quickly, guide them toward measurable outcomes and make adjustments along the way. The process is focused on “doing.”

Vilonia Community Survey Results Overview

1,249 residents participated in the Vilonia community survey, representing 28% of Vilonia’s population. Among those who participated, over 96% of respondents either live in city limits or are a part of the Vilonia School District. More than half of respondents lived in Vilonia for more than 15 years. Nearly 72% of respondents were employed (full-time or part-time) and 11% reported they are retired. Most respondents who were employed work in education or healthcare. The largest percentage of respondents were between the ages of 29-36 (16.84%), 37-45 (29.11%), and 46-55 (21.57%).

The survey collected information about the community and asked key questions that will help shape the future of Vilonia including the community’s personality, community focus areas, and specific opportunities that residents feel are important. The survey also asked residents their favorite thing about Vilonia (besides the people) and how they feel about Vilonia’s future.

The Vilonia Community Survey asked residents to select the five most important focus areas for the future of Vilonia from a list of selected focus areas. The top five focus areas were: 1) Youth and Family Activities and Services (49.56%), 2) Parks and Recreation (43.93%), 3) Downtown Development (40.39%), 4) Education and Workforce Development (35.88%), and 5) Entrepreneurship/Small Business Development (33.63%). Below is a graph of the most popular responses.


Residents of Vilonia shared 2,753 projects and/or opportunities they want to see addressed in the future. Upon reviewing and sorting those identified projects/opportunities, the following emerged as the most important to residents:

  1. Parks and Recreation: Residents reported a desire for updated park facilities, more parks, walking and biking trails, sports facilities, and splash pads. 
  2. Things-To-Do: An overall need for family and youth activities was pinpointed by residents. Some suggestions included: a community center, private entertainment options (movie theater, skate rink, bowling, etc.), development of festivals/events, a community theater/auditorium, community garden, and Farmer’s Market.
  3. Business, Restaurant and Retail Development: Expanded dining and shopping options, attraction of another grocery store, industry attraction, job creation, and small business development and support were identified as important to residents.
  4. Education: Residents expressed interest in updating school facilities and infrastructure, creation of additional programs (career center, internships, college-ready, etc.) to support the development of students, and an overall desire to create additional funding opportunities to support and expand the school system.
  5. Infrastructure: A variety of infrastructure projects and focus areas (streets and sidewalk development, housing development, broadband, drainage, traffic control, community beautification) were identified as important to continue Vilonia’s growth.

Residents also envisioned more community outreach, involvement, communication, and togetherness as a part of Vilonia’s future.

Residents were also asked “Which words best describe the personality of your community?” This question unveils how internal stakeholders at the local-level perceive the city of Vilonia. The top words used to describe Vilonia include: Small Town (73.45%), Traditional (43.26%), Rural Living (40.68%), Family-Oriented (36.80%), Laid Back (36.00%), Friendly (35.59%), Down Home (31.96%), Close Community (26.88%), Stable (21.31%), and Sleepy (20.26%).

Residents were asked, “What is your favorite thing about Vilonia (besides the people)?” and based on the responses several themes, concepts, and keywords emerged:

  1. Community and Small Town Feel: Residents love that Vilonia is a small town, referring to Vilonia being a community that comes together to help each other when needed, a close-knit community, a community that works together, and a community that is involved.
  2. Family and Education: Comments included Vilonia has an excellent public school system, caring teachers, the community is very supportive of the school, and is a great place to raise a family.
  3. Convenience and Amenities: Responses referred to Vilonia as conveniently located near larger cities like Little Rock, highway 64 (including the bypass), large regional medical centers, and entertainment and other activities being a short drive away. Residents also shared their love of many locally-owned businesses.
  4. Safety and Affordability: Comments included Vilonia is safe, quiet, and more affordable than surrounding communities.
  5. Nature and Scenery: Residents enjoy that Vilonia is scenic, they are surrounded by sprawling farmland, they are close to nature, and there are outdoor activities for families. 

Some responses mentioned concerns about the future, leadership, and the need for additional development.

Residents were asked to select how they identify with the following statement: I am optimistic about the future of Vilonia. The results were as follows: Strongly Agree (15.28%), Agree (38.56%), Neither Agree nor Disagree (26.19%), Disagree (15.84%), and Strongly Disagree (4.12%).

The responses trended overall positive with over 50% of the respondents sharing they either strongly agreed or agreed that they are optimistic about the future, though nearly 26% of respondents were neutral.

253 respondents shared their contact information because they wanted to continue being directly involved in shaping the future of Vilonia.

You can view the raw survey data here.


If you have any questions about the Community Catalyst program please reach out to Shelby Fiegel at

Click here to learn more about the Community Catalyst program.