The University of Central Arkansas Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) has partnered with Entergy Arkansas to assist more Arkansas communities with grassroots citizen engagement and technical assistance training through the Community Catalyst program.

In addition to the pilot community of Wynne, CCED will work with Magnolia and Searcy to carry out the Strategic Doing process this spring. Two other Arkansas communities will be selected later.

The Community Catalyst program helps train and engage citizens to develop small, actionable community and economic development goals that serve as a catalyst for longer-term economic development engagements and priorities.

The program utilizes a process called Strategic Doing, a community development tool that focuses on immediate, impactful small wins and goals to create transformation in communities. The process utilizes and amplifies each community’s unique strengths and enables leaders to design and guide new networks that generate innovative solutions. The CCED and Entergy are also partnering with the Mississippi State University John C. Stennis Institute of Government to kickstart the Strategic Doing process in each community.

In addition to coordinating a Strategic Doing process, the selected communities will receive follow-up assistance from CCED and a $1,000 mini-grant to complete a community development project.

Magnolia and Searcy were chosen as sites for the Community Catalyst program because of the potential impact the program can make to kickstart and sustain community action and engagement in these areas.

“Both communities have strong leadership structures, unique assets and passionate citizens, all of which we will capitalize on to create positive change in each community,” said Shelby Fiegel, director of the CCED.

Ellie Baker, economic development director for the city of Magnolia, is excited about the program and believes this is the perfect time for the Community Catalyst process to begin.

“For the past five years, Magnolia has pushed through barriers no one thought was possible. The timing of being selected for the Community Catalyst program couldn’t be better. Many community leaders and members have worked hard to augment our thriving downtown, school system and university. Incorporating this Strategic Doing process is the perfect next step for us,” Baker said.

Buck Layne, president of the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce, is ready to continue the momentum of recent successes in Searcy.

“Searcy citizens are energized, eager and ready to put forth the effort and cooperation needed to see meaningful progress in our community,” he said. “The community has experienced and witnessed the Small Business Revolution and the reality that when we work together amazing things can happen. The professional guidance offered through this program will help accelerate Searcy’s growth and ensure that the investments we make will be fruitful for our community.”

To learn more about the Community Catalyst program, visit uca.edu/cced/community-catalyst.

About CCED
The Center for Community and Economic Development’s mission is to have a positive impact on communities by equipping leaders with economic tools and resources, building consensus to achieve community goals and bringing UCA resources and communities together. CCED envisions communities across Arkansas and the country with robust economies, a flourishing quality of life and diverse and engaged citizen leaders. CCED provides customized training and technical assistance to communities and their leaders and is part of UCA’s Division of Outreach and Community Engagement.