New Company Plans Generic Drug Making in Fayetteville

A business unlike anything else in Arkansas will begin building its new facility in Fayetteville early next year.

OurPharma is a startup that'll begin manufacturing generic medications on a 14.9-acre site in the Fayetteville Commercial Park, employing 10 to 12 workers once the manufacturing begins. The company's long-term vision is for the company to make low-cost alternatives to pricy prescription drugs and to employ more than 100 people within seven years. The company plans to invest approximately $31.1 million in the Fayetteville facility.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack talks with OurPharma CEO Peter Kohler after a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday. Kohler's new company announced it will manufacture generic drugs in Northwest Arkansas, and construction on the company's new facility will start this winter.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack talks with OurPharma CEO Peter Kohler after a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday. Kohler's new company announced it will manufacture generic drugs in Northwest Arkansas, and construction on the company's new facility will start this winter.

A groundbreaking ceremony, which was attended by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack and more than 40 other people, was held Monday at the company's planned location in the commercial park.

“We want to fill a great need for generic drugs locally, in the region, and nationally by starting with compounding, and then progressing into the manufacturing of generic pills, tablets and capsules,” said Dr. Peter Kohler, CEO of OurPharma. “Our goals are to be a major generic drug company over the next decade and to provide affordable and much needed medications to the patients.”

The company plans phases of development over 10 years. The first phase will focus on compounded medications necessary for hospitals and clinics. Production requires careful adherence to state and Food and Drug Administration guidelines. During the next two phases, OurPharma plans to expand into the generic drug market by focusing on products such as insulin, which is too expensive for many diabetics.

“I am pleased to welcome OurPharma as the first generic drug manufacturer in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “Drug costs are an increasing concern, not just for Arkansans, but for citizens throughout the country. It’s great to see Arkansas at the forefront of the research and technology behind the manufacturing of affordable options that will improve the quality of life for many families. Dr. Kohler’s decision to locate OurPharma in Arkansas speaks volumes about our state’s business climate and our workforce.”

OurPharma would like to collaborate with bioengineering departments, including the University of Arkansas, to develop high-quality, cost-effective alternatives to devices such as the EpiPen.  The company also hopes to set up elective training opportunities for graduate level students in the University's College of Business and the College of Engineering.  That's in keeping with Kohler’s longstanding career in promoting higher education, having recently retired as the vice chancellor of the UAMS Northwest Campus.

“I am so thrilled to see the substantial investment that OurPharma is making in the Fayetteville Commerce District, along with the 10 new high-paying jobs as they establish their headquarters here,” said Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan. “This is yet another testament to the city’s robust economic development plan, which is well underway and paying dividends for our economy. The quality of life in Fayetteville is what draws new employers with high-paying jobs to our city, and I’m excited that we continue to grow as a great place to live, work, play, and do business.”

“We are excited to have worked with Dr. Kohler and his team from the beginning and now to see the fruition of this project,” said Steve Clark, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. “Dr. Kohler’s work adds to the healthcare sector that we are building in Fayetteville.”

Northwest Arkansas Ranks High in Income Analysis

An analysis by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows few metropolitan areas can match Northwest Arkansas’ remarkable combination of high income and low cost of living.

The researchers, who shared their calculation at an economics conference this fall, used 2015 Bureau of Economic Analysis data and found that the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked No. 11 nationally in per capita personal income if the region’s low cost of living is taken into account.

Northwest Arkansas' “adjusted per capita income” based on a “regional price parity” index created by the Bureau of Economic Analysis is $53,662 per year. The price parity index shows that the cost of goods and services in Northwest Arkansas is about 89 percent of the national average, and it’s that low cost combined with rising income that moves Northwest Arkansas high in the adjusted per capita income ranking.

Northwest Arkansas as a whole and its individual cities continue to earn praise for high economic performance as well as consistently improving quality of life. For example, Money magazine just last week looked at cities with populations between 10,000 and 100,000 residents and considered the economy, cost of living, crime and education to put Fayetteville at No. 7 on its list of the 10 Best Places to Live in the South.

Regarding the analysis, the Midland, Texas metropolitan area finished at No. 1 in the St. Louis Fed’s adjusted per capita income. That economy's cost of living is near the national average, but its per capita personal income of $95,616 in 2015 was driven high by the oil and natural gas industry.

Other metropolitan statistical areas ranked ahead of Northwest Arkansas included two regions in Massachusetts, two in California and two in Florida.

No. 8 Tulsa was the only nearby metro to outperform Northwest Arkansas. While Tulsa’s cost of living is slightly higher than Northwest Arkansas, its per capita personal income is higher.

The Federal Reserve Bank researchers have used per capital personal income and regional price parity to calculate an adjusted per capita personal income since 2008. The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA’s ranking in the first three years ranged from No. 52 in 2008 to No. 87 in 2010 among the nation’s more than 380 MSAs, but Northwest Arkansas has moved up the ranking in more recent years.

The region’s No. 37 ranking in 2011 was followed up with top 15 rankings in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.  Northwest Arkansas' regional price parity has remained virtually the same in each of those years, but per capita personal income has improved markedly since 2008.

Mervin Jebaraj, interim director of the University of Arkansas Center for Business and Economic Research, said the region’s low cost of living won’t be maintained in future years if affordable housing issues aren’t addressed. Housing prices are rising across the region, he said.

There were a few metropolitan areas within a five-hour drive of Northwest Arkansas that did well in the ranking calculated by the Federal Reserve Bank. Those in the Top 100 included No. 23 St. Louis, No. 35 Wichita, No. 54 Kansas City, No. 66 Shreveport and No. 68 Oklahoma City.

Other metropolitan areas in Arkansas — Little Rock, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Texarkana and Memphis — have low costs of living, but low per capita personal income prevents any of those areas from being in the Top 100 metros ranked by the Federal Reserve Bank.

Pictured at the top: Experience Fayetteville provided us with the photograph of Dickson Street at night.

Division Dedicates Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences

Division Dedicates Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture dedicated its new Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences today in Fayetteville, making it the second time in three days that Tyson Foods and the Tyson family helped Northwest Arkansas make a major advancement.

The opening of the new 54,000-square-foot building, which was funded in part by a $5 million gift from Tyson Foods and the Tyson family, came just two days after Tyson Foods celebrated the opening of a new Springdale facility that will become the company’s technology hub in the city’s downtown area.


Summit's Keynote Speaker Focuses on Importance of Work Ethic, Soft Skills

The Center for Work Ethic Development's chief executive officer will be the keynote speaker at this year's Northwest Arkansas Workforce Summit.

The Nov. 15 event, which is in its third year in Springdale, brings together hundreds of business and policy leaders with educators from every school district in the region. It will be held at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center.

State Breaks Ground on Northwest Arkansas Nature, Education Center

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission broke ground on its planned Northwest Arkansas nature center, honoring Northwest Arkansas philanthropist Johnelle Hunt for her family's incredible contribution to the project.

Today's ceremony in Springdale on a 61-acre site along Spring Creek was attended by more than 250 people, including Mrs. Hunt, Northwest Arkansas mayors and business leaders, and every member of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Construction on the $18 million facility, which is expected to start early next year, will focus on natural elements and ecosystems found in the northwest region of the state. Construction is estimated to take about three years. Land for the facility was donated by the City of Springdale.

Mrs. Hunt, who founded J.B. Hunt Transport Services with her late husband, and her family provided $5 million for the project. That gift was announced in November 2015.

Mrs. Hunt spoke at today's event, saying God has a purpose for the vacant land and it's clear to her that the nature center is that purpose.

Proposed facility highlights include 36,000 square feet of improvements, including a state-of-the-art educational building, indoor and outdoor classrooms, education pavilions, traditional and 3-D archery ranges, watchable-wildlife walking trails, wildlife habitat areas, a creek boardwalk and overlook, native plant gardens, wildlife-viewing blinds, and many other conservation education and outdoor recreation amenities.