Bentonville Adds Most Residents in State

What’s most remarkable in the new population estimates made public by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier today is the reported one-year growth in the small city of Tontitown and in much larger Bentonville.

The Census Bureau estimates Tontitown, which is just west of Springdale, saw its population swell by 25.1 percent between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016. It added more people to its population in a single year (702 new residents) than it did in the previous five years combined (335).

Among Arkansas’ largest cities, Bentonville is the fast-growth superstar.

Spurred by the openings of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Scott Family Amazeum and by incredible investments into the city’s fantastic downtown area over the past several years, Bentonville reached 47,093 people as of July 2016.

No city in the state added more new residents than the 2,427 people who moved to Bentonville between July 2015 and July 2016. Rogers (1,642 new residents), Benton (1,628), Fayetteville (1,370), Jonesboro (1,081) and Springdale (1,075) were the other cities in the state to add more than 1,000 residents in that year, the bureau estimates.

Yet, Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin suggests the Census estimate is likely below the true population.

"The current population is likely well in excess of the reported 47,000," McCaslin said. "The city utilities billing department currently has more than 23,300 accounts. The factors used by the U.S. Census would put us well over 50,000 based on the number of accounts.

"The growth we see in our public schools is consistent with our projection. I confidently predict the 2020 Census will record Bentonville’s population to be in the low- to mid-50,000 range."

A collection of small cities and towns in Northwest Arkansas experienced solid growth in that same year, and most of them serve as bedroom communities to their larger neighbors. In addition to Tontitown’s more than 25 percent growth, the estimated one-year growth rates were impressive in Cave Springs (17.3 percent), Centerton (6.7 percent), Goshen (5.7 percent), Lowell (4.1 percent) and Prairie Grove (3.7 percent).

Much of that Northwest Arkansas growth over the past several years can be attributed to expansions at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and at the region’s largest companies. Bentonville-based Walmart remains at the top of the Fortune 500 list, and Springdale-based Tyson Foods is investing in new downtown offices that's expected to spur downtown growth in Springdale. Meanwhile, Lowell-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services is putting the finishing touches on a new office tower where hundreds of new employees will work.

Additionally, the region’s Walmart supplier community has continued to expand for two decades. There were about 450 Walmart supplier offices in the region in 2000; there are now more than 1,600 suppliers, including several offices with more than 100 employees.

City governments and school districts have certainly played an important role in the continuing growth with their investments in better roads, water quality protection, new schools, emergency services and parks.

That’s been combined with the good work and investments of regional partners such as the Beaver Water District, the Benton-Washington Regional Public Water Authority, the Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority, the Walton Family Foundation and the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission. They all helped make the population growth possible by providing services needed by new residents and the amenities wanted by those who are moving to the region.

There’s no indication that the population growth will slow anytime soon, either. The regional planning commission estimates the four-county Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area will by near 800,000 residents by 2040. It’s near 525,000 residents today.


Northwest Arkansas' Biggest Companies Continue Adding to Portfolios

Northwest Arkansas' two largest companies have made five major acquisitions in nine months, expanding their already impressive operations across the U.S.

Walmart's purchases of, ShoeBuy, Moosejaw and Modcloth was joined on Tuesday by the biggest of them all: The $4.2 billion acquisition of Cincinnati-based AdvancePierre by Springdale-based Tyson Foods.

In Tuesday's deal, Tyson Foods, Inc. and AdvancePierre Foods Holdings, Inc. announced that they had entered into a definitive merger agreement. The New York Times said Tyson Foods had "found a delectable new bite to swallow in its quest to become America’s premier protein provider from the farmyard to the kitchen table."

The $4.2 billion value of the transaction, which has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, includes $3.2 billion in equity value and $1.1 billion in assumption of AdvancePierre debt. 

“We are very pleased to announce this combination with AdvancePierre," said Tom Hayes, Tyson Foods president and CEO. "The AdvancePierre leadership team has created significant value through the implementation of a new business management model, focus on quality and service and attention to the growth opportunities in convenience foods.  The addition of AdvancePierre aligns with our strategic intent to sustainably feed the world with the fastest growing portfolio of protein-packed brands."

While the Tyson Foods acquisition is the biggest of the deals, Walmart made four major acquisitions in just eight months.

The biggest of the Walmart deals came in August when it acquired for $3 billion in cash and another $300 million in Walmart stock. Walmart described the deal as one that positioned the company well for expanded e-commerce growth and customer reach.

In January, Walmart acquired Boston-based footwear retailer ShoeBuy for about $70 million. It was viewed as a way to make Walmart even stronger with its online shoe sales business.

Walmart waited only a month before announcing the $51 million acquisition of Michigan-based Moosejaw, a leading online outdoor retailer. Moose jaw sells more than 400 brands, including Patagonia, The North Face and Marmot. The company's 350-plus employee remain in Michigan and continue to operate the Moosejaw website.

Walmart just last month took in womenswear website ModCloth. Neither company revealed the financial terms of that deal. The Los Angeles Times reported that Walmart was gaining "style cred with a string of e-commerce purchases" that included the ModCloth purchase.

Just as Walmart has said the acquisitions fit well within their e-commerce goals, Tyson Foods said AdvancePierre is a good one for the company.

"We believe that AdvancePierre and Tyson are a natural strategic fit and together will accelerate growth for customers by delivering on-trend, high-quality products consumers love," Hayes said.

AdvancePierre President and CEO Christopher D. Sliva said, “We couldn’t be more delighted to join Tyson.  By combining our complementary, market-leading portfolios, both companies will realize greater opportunities.  This combination will allow AdvancePierre to accelerate its growth and broaden its distribution network by leveraging Tyson’s existing distribution infrastructure and go-to-market capabilities.  Importantly, the transaction also offers compelling and certain value for our shareholders and will provide long-term benefits for our team members and customers.”


NW Arkansas Poised to Be Top 100 MSA

NW Arkansas Poised to Be Top 100 MSA

Northwest Arkansas is on pace to be one of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas within three years, an analysis by the Northwest Arkansas Council shows.

The annual analysis is conducted after the U.S. Census Bureau releases new population estimates. The group of Census Bureau estimates, which showed the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA (Northwest Arkansas) had 525,032 residents as of July 1, 2016, was made public today.