Bentonville zoomed past 50,000 residents in 2018, and its growth has accelerated since that time, new information from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.
The federal bureau reports Walmart’s hometown was the nation’s fifth fastest-growing city with at least 50,000 residents between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019. It grew 7.4% to a population of 54,909.
That rapid growth in Bentonville and throughout Northwest Arkansas heightens the importance of the Census that’s currently being conducted. Results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of federal dollars flow into communities each year through 2030 to support such things as school lunch programs, Head Start, health care, public housing, public transportation and highway construction.
Those federal dollars are especially important in places challenged by high growth rates, and residents’ participation in the census can help the communities where they live keep up with what’s need to accommodate more residents.
The Bentonville growth rate is nothing short of amazing. As Talk Business & Politics reported in its article, the city averaged 10 additional residents a day from July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019. Bentonville accounted for the majority of 18.8 additional residents added to Benton County, the state’s fastest-growing county.
Bentonville added 4.7 people a day between July 2017 and July 2018.
The last time the U.S. Census Bureau conducted a population count rather than relying on annual estimates was in 2010 when Bentonville had 35,301 residents. While Walmart’s steady expansion is a primary factor in what’s happening in the city, the company’s hundreds of suppliers continue to expand their operations in Bentonville and nearby Rogers.
Bentonville in the past decade benefited from expansions that include high-quality downtown restaurants, breweries and other venues such as 21c Museum Hotel. The hotel opened in 2013.
Incredible quality-of-life investments in Bentonville made by the city government but also businesses and nonprofit organizations such as the Walton Family Foundation helped fuel the growth. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (2011), Scott Family Amazeum (2015) and The Momentary (2020) are some of the best examples of those projects.
Yet, the entire region is growing, boosted by corporate expansions and quality-of-life enhancements. Fortune 500 members Tyson Foods in Springdale and J.B. Hunt Transport Services in Lowell made multiple expansions to their Northwest Arkansas operations in the past few years. The region also saw the 2015 opening of the Razorback Regional Greenway, a bike-ped trail that cuts a 40-mile path from south Fayetteville to Bella Vista. Other major projects included the Walmart AMP outdoor amphitheater in Rogers (2015) and major renovations to the Walton Arts Center (2016) in Fayetteville. Improvements and changes at the University of Arkansas, the state’s flagship campus in Fayetteville, have been near constant over the years.
Census data shows Fayetteville, the region’s largest city, reached 87,590 residents on July 1, 2019. Springdale (81,115), Rogers (68,669) and Bella Vista (28,872) all added to their populations, too.
Several small Northwest Arkansas cities — Elkins, Tontitown, Prairie Grove and Cave Springs among them — had some of the state’s highest growth rates. Those communities all saw growth rates exceed 6.3% in the most recent year.
Pictured at the top: Cyclist cruise down the Razorback Regional Greenway in a northern area of Bentonville. The 40-mile bike-pedestrian path connects seven cities in Norhwest Arkansas: Fayetteville, Johnson, Springdale, Lowell, Rogers, Bentonville and Bella Vista. Photo provided by Visit Bentonville.