Economist: Northwest Arkansas Trends Heading in 'Right Direction'

High-growth, low-cost Northwest Arkansas is a great position to take advantage of future opportunities as “all the trends are going in the right direction,” a University of Arkansas economist indicated.

Economist Kathy Deck, the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at UA, presented her findings in the State of the Northwest Arkansas Region Report and the Quarterly Business Analysis at a luncheon today in Springdale, sharing the encouraging information in the report but pointing out that economic growth has slowed in the first half of this year.

“We’re seeing incomes growing and our poverty is declining,” Deck said. “We are in a position of balanced growth and we’re in a place where we can take advantage of opportunities. We’re a high-growth, low-cost place.”

The State of the Northwest Arkansas Region Report is an annual publication that serves as a tool for evaluating the economic performance of the region in comparison with those peers that are most likely to compete with Northwest Arkansas by virtue of their industry mix or proximity. Those metropolitan statistical area peers are Tulsa, Knoxville, Omaha, Kansas City and Huntsville, Ala.

Northwest Arkansas saw improvements in its real gross domestic product, educational attainment, per capita personal income, average annual wage, total nonfarm employment and the size of its labor force. Meanwhile, the region’s poverty rate declined.

The more than 250 attendees at today's luncheon also heard from Ted Abernathy, the former director of the Southern Growth Policies Board who now operates his own economic consultancy. Abernathy, who discussed the national and world economies, is working with the Northwest Arkansas Council and focus groups throughout the region to assist in developing a new three-year strategic plan for Northwest Arkansas.

The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal reported this afternoon on the State of the Northwest Arkansas Region Report.