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Northwest Arkansas Ranks Among 25 Best-Performing Metro Areas in the Nation

 February 14, 2018

Nestled in the Ozark Mountains and often referred to as “Razorback Country,” Northwest Arkansas is a booming metro area home to more than half a million people. With Arkansas’ total population of three million, it’s outstanding to find the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metropolitan statistical area* among the Top 25 Best-Performing Cities in the nation, as ranked by the Milken Institute.

Each year, Milken ranks large metropolitan areas (and, separately, small areas) in the United States based on growth in jobs, wages, high-tech jobs and high-tech wages. The top 25 cities are located in only 12 states.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Northwest Arkansas was a popular destination for the “Back-to-the-Land Movement.” But it’s the presence of three Fortune 500 company headquarters — J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Tyson Foods and Walmart — along with the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville that helped double the region’s population between 1990 and 2010.

Northwest Arkansas has also had significant job gains in the health care sector, with nearly 7,000 people employed by local and regional medical centers. Additionally, the Northwest Arkansas Council actively works to propel the region to the forefront, focusing on workforce development, regional stewardship, infrastructure and economic development. The robust population and job growth in the region helps the overall economic stability in Arkansas.

This recent Milken ranking isn’t the only achievement earned by the region. Northwest Arkansas can also boast placement on Realtor.com’s 10 Best Cities to Launch a Career, U.S. News & World Report’s Best Affordable Places to Live, Forbes’ list of Best Midsize Cities for Jobs, and Fast Company and Nerdwallet’s list of Best Places for Minority-Owned Businesses, among others.

Mervin Jebaraj, director for the Center of Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas recently spoke at the 2018 Economic Forecast Luncheon in Rogers. He stated that 6,000 of the 11,000 jobs Arkansas is expected to add in 2018 will be located in Northwest Arkansas. The fastest-growing sectors in the region include construction, healthcare, hospitality, and professional/business services, with the latter representing the largest sector in Northwest Arkansas.

Strong regions help Arkansas be one of the best states for business development, as more and more companies discover what the state has to offer.

The Milken Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., is a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic think tank that advances innovative economic and policy solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital, and enhance health.

*The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area includes the three named cities, along with Bentonville, and Madison County, Arkansas, and McDonald County, Missouri.