Military, Veterans Add More than $150 Million to Economy

The impact of the U.S. military on Northwest Arkansas exceeds $150 million annually, but its economic importance to the region goes unnoticed by many people who live in the region.

“The Military in Northwest Arkansas” economic impact report on the importance of the Arkansas National Guard, the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, and military retirees and veterans who live in Benton and Washington counties is the first in a series of periodic overviews of certain aspects of the region’s economy.

The report recognizes the significant efforts of Northwest Arkansas’ largest employers, including Walmart Stores, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services. Those companies and others in the region have hired thousands of military veterans, benefiting both the new employees and the companies.

Northwest Arkansas was noted earlier this month in a report put out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes project as the nation’s seventh-best place among mid-sized cities for veterans to find a job.

Statistics in the economic impact report show:

-       $134.3 million is the annual payroll of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, which includes the Fayetteville hospital and six community-based health clinics.

-       $33 million annually is how much the Veterans Health Administration paid for military veterans to receive medical services at non-affiliated hospitals and clinics. That kept veterans from waiting to schedule services at more distant Veterans Health Administration facilities.

-       $31 million is the annual operational spending of the Arkansas National Guard in Benton and Washington counties.

-       31,782 military veterans live in Benton and Washington counties, which is about 7 percent of the population.

The military’s contribution to Northwest Arkansas is significant, and that’s among the reasons the Northwest Arkansas Council recently invited the Arkansas National Guard’s 142nd Fires Brigade to join the Council’s membership. The guard accepted the invitation, said Mike Malone, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council. Col. Troy Galloway, commander of the 142nd Fires Brigade, will be the Guard’s representative to the Council.

“Having Troy and the 142nd join us is a great reminder of the important role the Arkansas National Guard plays in Northwest Arkansas and statewide,” Malone said.