The two largest metropolitan areas in Arkansas once again find themselves ranked among the top places to do business in the U.S.
Forbes magazine on Wednesday placed Northwest Arkansas (No. 28) and Central Arkansas (No. 32) near the top of 200 metropolitan statistical areas as “Best Places for Business and Careers.”
“People in both of our regions and around the state are working together to show some of the business advantages to being in Arkansas,” said Mike Malone, President and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, a private nonprofit organization working with partners on improving the region’s economic opportunity. “In both regions, efforts to create high-paying jobs, improve educational attainment and develop regional amenities are paying dividends.”
“Our economies in Central and Northwest Arkansas are unique enough that we don’t compete, and we can root for the other’s success.”
The Northwest Arkansas economy is recognized as home to Walmart Stores, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Simmons Foods and the University of Arkansas, the state’s flagship institution. In all, there are 30 companies in the region with annual revenue exceeding $100 million.
Central Arkansas’ diverse economy, centered around the state capital in Little Rock, is home to Stephens Inc., Windstream Communications, Dillard’s Inc., Acxiom, Dassault Falcon Jet Corp., The William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Winrock International and Heifer International.
Jay Chesshir, President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce said, “Great states have great regions that work together. With global competition, it’s never been more important to combine efforts to amplify Arkansas’ unique position in the world. These rankings are more evidence that our collaborative efforts yield results.”
The top 50 communities listed this year by Forbes as “Best Places for Business and Careers” are widely recognized by economic developers and in many publications as the nation’s elite regions. They provide good jobs, excellent schools and a high quality of life. They are solid communities now, and their leaders are determined to see them keep getting better, said Mike Harvey, the Council’s Chief Operating Officer.
“In economic development, those top 50 or so are the communities we admire, and it’s special to be listed among them,” Harvey said. “Central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas find themselves on an impressive list.”
Chesshir added, “Economic development is a team effort. We spend a great deal of time visiting with developers and site consultants, and with both Central and Northwest Arkansas in the top tier of this ranking together, our cooperation of regions will certainly be noticed.”