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by Paul Gatling NWA Business Journal January 10th, 2024

An economic development project announced this past summer in south Fayetteville has earned international recognition for its design.

In November, Rethinking the Future (RFA), an architecture and design platform based in New Delhi, announced the results of its Global Architecture & Design Awards 2023 competition. The global competition recognizes projects showcasing excellence and innovation.

New York City-based design studio OSD (Office of Strategy and Design) was named the urban design (concept) winner.

RFA bestowed the award to OSD for its work on a 230-acre site on South Cato Springs Road near Kessler Mountain Regional Park.

The Cato Springs project broke ground in June. It aims to provide a comprehensive living environment through housing, employment and services. The envisioned community will encompass various components, including workforce housing and a vibrant town square.

“This is one of the most significant economic development projects to ever [happen] in the city of Fayetteville,” Mayor Lioneld Jordan said at the time. “Because it’s tackling a significant issue, ensuring our neurodiverse residents get healthcare, job skills training and employment and housing opportunities they deserve.” Read more.

by Paul Gatling NWA Business Journal August 14th, 2023

Victor Fedeli and his economic development team sell the province of Ontario seven days a week throughout the world. This week, that endeavor brought Fedeli to Northwest Arkansas.

Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, a cabinet position under Premier Doug Ford, is one of Ontario’s high-level government and business leaders in Bentonville this week leading a trade mission to Arkansas.

“Triple the Trade” convened Monday morning (Aug. 14) at the Momentary in Bentonville. The name highlights the trade mission’s goal of increasing bilateral trade between Ontario — Canada’s largest and most influential province and the country’s economic engine, in many ways — and Northwest Arkansas from $2 billion to $6 billion by 2027.

“We can do this,” Fedeli said. “We’ve got so much in common between Arkansas and Ontario. Hell, I wear boots every day. I bought my first pair of western boots in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1992, and I have worn cowboy boots every single day of my life since I bought those.”

Fedeli is a lifelong entrepreneur, successful businessperson, author and philanthropist. He was elected for two terms as Mayor of North Bay, his hometown, from 2003 to 2010.

In 2011, he was elected to the Ontario Legislature and is now serving his third term as MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) for Nipissing, a district in northeastern Ontario. Read more.


Matt Waller, dean emeritus at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, listens as Victor Fedeli discusses bilateral trade between Arkansas and the Canadian province of Ontario during a session of the "Triple the Trade" trade mission on Monday at The Momentary in Bentonville. Fedeli is Ontario's minister of economic development.


by Paul Gatling NWA Business Journal June 27th, 2023

An ambitious economic development project in south Fayetteville was officially launched Tuesday (June 27) on South Cato Springs Road near Kessler Mountain Regional Park.

Dozens of civic leaders, elected officials and supporters gathered at South Cato Springs, a proposed mixed-use development, to mark a significant milestone — securing a $3 million federal grant and a matching $3.48 million grant from the city of Fayetteville. The funding will pay for the initial infrastructure work and bring city sewer services to the 230-acre site.

“The federal award secured by Congressman [Steve] Womack and the matching grant from the city is the essential spark for South Cato Springs and the future home of SLS Community,” Ashton McCombs IV said in his remarks Tuesday.

McCombs, 30, is the executive director of SLS (Supporting Lifelong Success) Community, a Fayetteville nonprofit focused on empowering neurodivergent adults with the necessary tools for growth and fulfillment.

Neurodiversity, also known as neurodivergence, encompasses individuals with autism, Down syndrome, or other variations in brain functioning that deviate from the neurotypical norm.

“To be clear, this is not a neurodivergent development,” McCombs said. “South Cato Springs is the venue where SLS will scale. The philosophical bent of this project is towards inclusion and understanding the relationship between neurodivergent adults and the broader community. We intend not to create an institution tucked away, hidden or isolated. It will be fully immersed in a live/work/play community that serves the whole region.” Read more.

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