Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

TOP STORY>>Cabot upbeat on growth

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

The economic development committee of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce met last week to talk about the state of the city considering the economic downturn and concluded that
all things considered, Cabot is in good shape.

To make that conclusion more official, the committee will conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), said Mark Eisold, pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church and one of 12 members of the chamber’s board of directors. But he said there is little doubt that Cabot’s strength is its schools and that’s not likely to change. So even in a recession, Cabot should continue to prosper.

“Cabot is strong and we’re stable,” Eisold said. “Our stability is not based on industry. Our industry is education.

“I’m not saying Cabot is recession proof,” he said, adding that it is ironic that not having industry seemed like a disadvantage in the past. But now, it could be viewed as an advantage.

“We’re solidly based in education and we’ve got decades backing that up,” he said.

When the SWOT analysis is completed within two months, the economic-development committee will be in a better position to make plans for the future, he said.

Although it is generally believed that Cabot does not attract industry in part because it does not have the necessary infrastructure, the city’s growing population continues to attract new businesses to the area.

The area considered to have the most potential for commercial growth is Hwy. 5, but much of the area is outside Cabot city limits and its water is supplied by North Pulaski Water Users Association. The water lines are too small for adequate fire protection and there is no city sewer.

To make the potential for commercial growth a reality, the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission is negotiating with North Pulaski Water to buy its territory in Lonoke County, Tim Joyner, general manager of Cabot WaterWorks, said Friday.

The negotiations will include getting an appraisal of the value of the pipes in the ground and the value of the revenue from the customers in the area.

“We’ll work with North Pulaski about what they’re willing to sell us,” Joyner said. “Ideally, we would like everything in Lonoke County. We expect a lot of commercial development in the area.”

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Wil-liams, who is also a member of the economic-development committee, said he agrees that the city is stable because of the schools.

He agrees that Hwy. 5 will be the next commercial growth area if Cabot WaterWorks is successful in obtaining the territory controlled by North Pulaski Water. With good fire protection, water and sewer, the area could be a great benefit to the city in the future, he said.