Milken: Northwest Arkansas Remains One of Top Performers

Northwest Arkansas remains one of the nation’s best-performing cities, according to new research released Thursday by the Milken Institute.

The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked 41st among the nation’s 200 largest MSAs.

It was the highest ranking among all Arkansas MSAs and just two MSAs within a five-hour drive of Northwest Arkansas ranked higher (Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas was 14th; Oklahoma City was 32nd).

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara MSA in California held the nation’s top spot.

The Milken Institute measured Northwest Arkansas, which includes the cities of Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale, and all best-performing cities in nine categories. In wage growth between 2009 and 2010, Northwest Arkansas ranked 8th. The region ranked 24th in wage growth during a five-year period and 25th nationally in short-term job growth.

A complete version of the Milken Institute’s ranking can be found at Best-Performing Cities.

The ranking continues astreak of the Northwest Arkansas region being among the nation's top MSAs.

The Milken Institute’s “Best-Performing Cities” ranking is widely viewed as one of the nation’s most important barometers of economic success. Among the nation’s MSAs, Northwest Arkansas ranked No. 1 in 2003.

Northwest Arkansas’ economy is most recognized for its combination of long-established Fortune 500 companies (Walmart and Tyson Foods are based here), but it’s also a place where new companies are flourishing and hoping to be the “next big thing” as it was described in an Arkansas newspaper. Those rising stars include Acumen Brands Inc. and NanoMech Inc. and Rockfish Interactive, fast-growing companies established in the region in the past few years.

The Northwest Arkansas Council, a private nonprofit organization, and its partners have led efforts to improve the region’s attractiveness to expanding companies and to individuals who want to relocate to Northwest Arkansas to take jobs with local companies. The Council is facilitating steps that should lead to better schools, better infrastructure, improved community vitality and increased economic opportunity.