West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District CEDS Update

AEDI recently worked with the West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District (WCAPDD) to update their Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. This new strategy will be for 2024-2028 and includes strategies and action items that strengthen the community and economic development efforts across the 10-county region.

What is a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy?

The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is a community plan that designated economic development districts (EDDs) across the U.S. have to complete every 5 years. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration designates economic development districts across each state in the U.S.

There are 8 EDDs in Arkansas and AEDI has been grateful to have worked with several of the EDDs over the years. Click here to see the 8 EDDs. 

What region is covered by the WCAPDD?

The 10-county WCAPDD region includes Clark, Conway, Garland, Hot Spring, Johnson, Montgomery, Perry, Pike, Pope, and Yell counties.

West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District Map

Stats on the WCAPDD region:

  1. The total population of the 10-county is approximately 313,000 people
  2. The median household income in the region is $47,402
  3. The median age of the region is 41.4
  4. 70% of households in the region are owner-occupied
  5. The median home value in the region is approximately $125,722
  6. There are eight higher education institutions in the region with enrollment of more than 21,000 students combined

To access the WCAPDD data dashboard and view city and county level data, click here.

What was the timeline for the development of the CEDS?

The development of the WCAPDD 2024-2028 CEDS was kicked off in January 2023 and adopted by the WCAPDD board in November 2023. 

Who was involved and what was the process for developing the CEDS?

  • Leaders throughout the 10-county region were engaged in the development of the CEDS plan through surveys and group interviews. These leaders formed the CEDS Steering Committee. 
  • A full list of the CEDS Steering Committee members can be found in the CEDS plan.
  • The AEDI team traveled to Hot Springs and Morrilton to get input from leaders in the northern and southern counties in the 10-county region. Also during those meetings, demographic and economic data for the region was shared with the meeting attendees. 
  • An online survey was fielded to the CEDS Steering Committee to gain their input on the direction for their communities. 
  • A SWOT analysis was developed from the stakeholder engagement sessions and the AEDI team worked with the WCAPDD staff to determine the focus areas for the plan. 
  • The AEDI team worked diligently to write feasible action items for the region to pursue.

What was the result of the CEDS?

The WCAPDD 2024-2028 CEDS is a strong plan that provides leaders with guidance on community and economic development efforts to pursue to increase the quality of life for residents and businesses. 

Focus areas include:

  1. Broadband access
  2. Suitable and affordable housing
  3. Regional infrastructure development
  4. Tourism assets
  5. Workforce development

Check out the CEDS plan here.

To learn more about the West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District, click here.