Hot Springs Recognized Nationally for Being a ‘Vibrant Community’

December 8, 2020 – Hot Springs was one of only eight cities in America recognized by Strong Towns and the Studer Community Institute for leading the way to vibrant communities.

“As part of EntreCon, Pensacola’s virtual business and leadership conference held a few weeks back, we sponsored a Community Resiliency Award contest,” Quint Studer, founder of Studer Community Institute and author, wrote in his column in Strong Towns. We were looking for small, incremental steps communities have taken to get stronger and more vibrant—steps that have created a lot of ‘bang for the buck’ and are easy to replicate.”

Hot Springs was awarded a Community Resiliency Award for its “Will You Be My Neighbor?” campaign where the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Hot Springs Metro Partnership teamed up with Toddy Pitard, owner of Lauray’s—The Diamond Center. The purpose of the campaign was to encourage entrepreneurship and engage citizens in selecting what type of business should go into an empty space in Downtown Hot Springs. They held a contest and built a charity component into the voting process. In the end, the citizens chose a boutique grocery store as the winning idea. That business is currently in development.

“This contest had several great byproducts,” Studer said. “It got people engaged in their community and raised money to help people impacted by the pandemic. Also, since people voted for the winning business, they will likely have plenty of foot traffic almost immediately. This will benefit everyone downtown.”

“When you partner with your community good things happen,” Pitard said. “I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and most of all our wonderful community.”

“It was so important for us to ask for recommendations from the community. Not only did this help drive engagement, but it generated plenty of great ideas,” said Cole McCaskill, Vice President of Economic Development at the Hot Springs Metro Partnership. “Plus, if you ask the people who are going to be shopping there what they want, the business stands a better chance of being successful, and everyone is super excited about it.”

Besides Hot Springs, other winning cities were Columbia, Miss., Elkins, W.Va., Martin County, Fla., Palatka, Fla., Chillicothe, Ohio, Springfield, Ohio, and Stillwater, Okla.

Studer says he hopes to compile a library of good ideas and best practices that other communities can learn from, replicate, refine, and share—and that he is grateful to Hot Springs for being a part of it.

“While it’s the big glamorous projects that usually get the most attention, I’m more impressed by the small but still impactful things communities do to move toward vibrancy,” Studer added. “These are the kinds of things that are doable and sustainable.”

The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce is Hot Springs’ leading advocate and champion for business.

For further information, contact Mara Kuhn at 501.321.1700 or