Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Arkansas’s Economy Drives New Business

October 11, 2017

Sky View of Downtown Little Rock BusinessBusinesses from across the country and around the world are finding out why Arkansas is a hidden gem. The state’s convenient geography, low cost of living, thriving business climate and the abundance of natural resources make Arkansas an ideal location for a variety of businesses. Arkansas has created a business climate, workforce and quality of life that continues to bring jobs and investment from new and expanding companies. With the second highest percentage of manufacturing employment in the south, the seventh lowest cost of doing business, the second- lowest cost of living in the nation–and the impressive number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the state–Arkansas’s economy is booming. 

Arkansas is known for its natural beauty. Centered between Canada and Mexico, and located in the middle of the United States, Arkansas is strategically placed to reach tens of millions of people easily and cost efficiently. In fact, 40 percent of the U.S. population is within a day’s drive of Arkansas. The state includes alluvial valleys and rivers in the east, mountains and coastal plains in the north and west, and timberlands in the south. The landscapes are not only breathtaking to look at, they are logistically beneficial with 1,000 miles of navigable waterways, 1,683 miles of Class 1 railroad, 100 public airports and 16,418 miles of state and U.S. highways. 

Cost of Living
Arkansas has a cost of living index of 87.4 percent, making it the second-lowest cost of living in the nation. Only Mississippi offers more purchasing power, dollar for dollar, than Arkansas. Affordable housing is one of the biggest factors in the cost-of-living difference. A new report from the personal finance site explored the median property listing prices on Zillow to calculate how much home $300,000 can buy in each U.S. state.  The Arkansas housing costs came out to $88 per square foot. That would mean that $300,000 buys approximately 3,390 square feet, making the state one of the most affordable places to live in the nation.

Business Climate
Business is good in the state of Arkansas. Home to more than 170 international companies and 235 international operations, Arkansas is a melting pot of industries and businesses. In fact, 33 countries are represented in the business landscape of Arkansas. The state’s principal industries are manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, agriculture, forestry, business services and tourism.

Government, businesses and the community collaborate to bring new business to the state, including more than 300 start-ups. There are more than 100 Fortune 500 firms with operations in Arkansas, and six that are headquartered here, including Dillard’s, J.B. Hunt, Walmart, Murphy USA, Tyson and Windstream. The total gross domestic product by the state is $120,689 (millions of current dollars). Arkansas is a right-to-work state with a union membership rate of 3.9 percent, the third lowest in the nation. 

Natural Resources
Arkansas is called The Natural State for a reason. Natural resources are abundant and contribute to many of the manufacturing industries in the state. Arkansas has more than 699,290 acres of surface water, with over 800 billion liters of high quality ground water. Forests cover approximately 19 millions acres, making timber growing harvesting, management transporting and processing major industries in Arkansas. Minerals are another large resource with commercial production of Bromine (#1 in the world), cement rock, clay, crushed stone, gypsum and quartz crystals, just to name a few. 

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