By: NWA Business Journal Staff
The economy of Northwest Arkansas is on an upward trend with rapid growth in employment and the number of businesses.
Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, and Mike Harvey, the Northwest Arkansas Council’s chief operating officer, discussed the analysis during a news conference at the NAC offices in Springdale.
“The best news [from the report] is that employment growth in our region has returned to rates last seen during the pre-recession years,” Deck said. “Northwest Arkansas continues to outpace competitor regions in producing job opportunities, which is the key to continued prosperity.
Factors such as educational attainment, unemployment and a region’s future population growth are critical factors in companies’ decisions about where they will expand.
“Today’s companies look at hundreds of criteria when they size up whether they want to expand in a particular region,” Harvey said. “Regions must be strong in dozens and dozens of areas to show companies that they can meet their needs.
Key findings from the report indicate:
• During the period from 2000 to 2011, employment in Northwest Arkansas grew at 25 percent, a rate that outstripped competitor regions, the state of Arkansas, and the nation as a whole.
• From 2001 to 2011, the number of business establishments in Northwest Arkansas grew 34.8 percent.
• When compared to its competitor regions, Northwest Arkansas had the second-lowest unemployment rate in 2011. The unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent from 2010 to 6.2 percent in 2011.
• From 2001 to 2010, the real gross domestic product in the Northwest Arkansas region grew 37.5 percent.