Northwest Arkansas will reach a major milestone on Wednesday as it's on pace to welcome its 500,000th resident that day.
Reaching the May 28 milestone is important to the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area’s future as that 500,000 threshold makes the region more likely to draw the attention of expanding businesses across the country.
A photo contest, which includes a $500 prize and a gift basket packed with Northwest Arkansas-produced products, is one way the Northwest Arkansas Council wants to highlight the region’s impressive growth and successes.
An analysis of the MSA’s population change between the U.S. Census in 2010 and the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimated population in 2013 was used to determine what day the 500,000th resident is likely to arrive in Northwest Arkansas. The region’s population has increased by an average of 24 people a day since the 2010 Census.
Since 1990, the Northwest Arkansas population has more than doubled its population and the most notable change is how the region has become more diverse. There’s been population growth in all four counties that make up the MSA (Benton, Madison and Washington counties in Arkansas plus McDonald County, Mo.), and each of those counties is more diverse. This YouTube video shows off some of the region's best attributes.
“We’re proud that diverse individuals have helped spur this growth, demonstrating the breadth of opportunities that Northwest Arkansas offers to a wide range of people,” said Mireya Reith, executive director of the Arkansas United Community Coalition in Fayetteville. “As a Mexican-American woman who grew up in Northwest Arkansas and whose family has called this region home for more than two decades, the growth comes as no surprise.”
The region’s other most notable change is in quality-of-life amenities. Since 2008, the region has added Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, the Walmart AMP in Rogers and the Razorback Regional Greenway that’s just about to reach completion. Additionally, a children’s museum called Amazeum should be open in Bentonville in 2015.
“Over my nine years in Northwest Arkansas, the tremendous growth in amenities and services has turned this region into a place we’re proud to call home,” said Doris Davis, a Fayetteville resident and senior marketing manager at Sam’s Club. “I knew I’d have a thriving professional career, and my personal fulfillment has grown with the addition of Crystal Bridges, the Walton Arts Center, Pinnacle Hills Promenade, the Jones Center, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and so much more. I’m so excited about the future of our region and, clearly, others are as well.”
Communities across Northwest Arkansas have appeared on dozens of national rankings lists, recognizing the cities for their excellent schools, impressive job growth, low crime rates, affordability and business opportunities.
“It’s been exciting to watch the growth and what it’s meant to the region,” said Jeff Schomburger, who is president of the Global Walmart Team for Procter & Gamble. “The quality and diversity of our educational options, from elementary school through high school, are a strong asset when we’re recruiting top P&G talent to our region. As we’ve approached 500,000 residents, the growth, opportunities and quality of life have resulted in Northwest Arkansas being a coveted destination for P&G families to work and live.”
To celebrate the milestone, the Northwest Arkansas Council organized a social media photo contest. Any Northwest Arkansas resident can share a photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram showing themselves or family members doing what they love best in Northwest Arkansas with the hashtag #NWA500K for a chance to win. Participants can share multiple photographs.
The contest begins at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, May 28 and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 9. The winner, who will be selected by a committee, will receive $500 in Walmart gift cards and a gift basket of items from Northwest Arkansas. The winner must be a resident of Benton, Madison or Washington counties in Arkansas or McDonald County, Mo.
Founded in 1990, the Northwest Arkansas Council is a private, nonprofit organization focused on improving education, community vitality, infrastructure and economic opportunity in the region.