Northwest Arkansas and the rest of the state could become a worldwide leader in advanced mobility technology, bringing thousands of jobs and other benefits, by strategically deploying both private and public resources, according a state report released earlier this week.
The Arkansas Council on Future Mobility called on government officials and investors to band together with surrounding states, expand education programs and establish a $250 million Arkansas Innovation Fund to spur new advances in drones, electric vehicles and space-based logistics.
By taking these steps and others, Arkansas can build on its outsized strength in retail and logistics to move people and goods more cleanly, more quickly, more safely and at lower cost.
“The report the council produced is invaluable and can serve as a blueprint for how we can achieve our goal of being the global leader in future advanced mobility,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who formed the council earlier this year, said in a statement. “It also reinforces the fact that we need to take a thoughtful, strategic approach to growing this industry. This growth will not come by accident, and there are no do-overs.”
Progress in the mobility industry has come quickly to Arkansas, particularly in the northwest. Hutchinson and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in August signed a memorandum of understanding to establish an Advanced Mobility Corridor between the two states and to take several steps similar to the Arkansas council’s recommendations. Arkansas has also forged an agreement with Louisiana to seek federal energy infrastructure dollars in partnership with each other.
Electric vehicle maker Canoo in 2021 announced it would build its headquarters in Bentonville and has secured deals to sell thousands of vehicles to Walmart and other buyers. And The Tulsa-based venture capital firm Atento Capital earlier this year launched 412 Angels, a first-of-its-kind program to boost investment in startups, in partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Council, the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
“Arkansas has a rich history in which entrepreneurial spirit, tremendous work ethic, and cutting-edge innovation have all blended to produce some of the most successful corporations and organizations in the world,” said Cyrus Sigari an aviator, investor and entrepreneur who chairs the Arkansas council.
“These same values, along with the support of investors, corporate leaders, the general public, and state policy-makers, have made the state well-positioned to take advantage of this incredible moment in time.”
Learn more at arfuturemobility.org