Road projects, downtown improvements part of plan to draw businesses to Arab

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ARAB, Ala. (WHNT) — The city of Arab is tackling multiple projects and improvements under a goal to draw businesses to the area.

After nearly a decade of no improvements, dozens of Arab’s streets have a fresh look. The city has been working to pave its city streets with the help of a one cent sales tax. As seemingly insignificant as a penny might seem, the city has already paved dozens of miles using the funding stemming from the tax.

In March, Mayor Bob Joslin says weather permitting, the city will reach a milestone. Mayor Joslin says the city is working toward paving 15 more miles. “When we get that paved we’ll be roughly 50 percent of our roads paved in a year and a half to two years, so I think we’ve made an outstanding improvement in that area.”

Mayor Joslin says the one cent tax was implemented in 2013, and says the feedback he’s heard on the movement has been positive.

There is an even bigger goal at hand, though. “In order to attract retail or industry you have to make your city attractive, or a place for them to want to come here,” Mayor Joslin says.

It’s part of the city’s plan to draw more businesses and people to the area, which is a continuous process.

Another project the city is undertaking under the goal of drawing retail and industry to Arab is revitalization.

Like other Marshall County cities, Arab has a history. Its downtown stretch is bustling and historic.

A group of residents known collectively as the Historic Preservation Commission is deciding what changes should be made to the downtown area. “They’re working to come up with their goals and sort of a theme with the downtown businesses, and they’re working with the downtown merchant’s association,” Mayor Joslin says.

City leaders say the focus is downtown because it’s the heart of the city. The improvements planned are in keeping with the trend of drawing businesses and people to Arab. “Hopefully that will improve the looks of the buildings and entice people to come and open a retail shop in downtown Arab,” Mayor Joslin says.

The city has plans to clean up dilapidated buildings, improve the landscaping in downtown, work with the lighting, and add public restrooms that are fitting to the area.

The city received a grant to help with some of those improvements.

In addition to the obvious projects the city is currently undertaking, city leaders say they attend conventions to meet with potential developers regularly.