Arkansas expecting economic boom for central part of state

Business is booming in northwest Arkansas as more companies relocate to the area. Businessmen and state leaders are hopeful central Arkansas could see a boom too.

ARKANSAS, USA — The Natural State isn’t slowing down, as more and more businesses have been coming to Arkansas in droves. 

While many of the businesses are choosing homes in northwest Arkansas, Jeremy Chrysler is setting up shop in a different part of the state.

“I think in terms of living in a place, I enjoy central Arkansas and find it a terrific place to live,” said Jeremy Chrysler, VP at Inuvo, an intelligent advertising company.

It’s been eight years since Chrysler took a pretty big leap for the company, offering a change of scenery in Arkansas.

“To come, and basically relocate everyone to Arkansas,” he said.

Chrysler said they offered 32 of their employees an opportunity to relocate from their offices in Tampa and New York, and move to central Arkansas. 

The company even offered the employees an opportunity to keep the same salaries they were making in those larger cities, but in end only three made the move.

“It wasn’t even on their radar as something that they could even do,” Chrysler said.

Fast forward nearly a decade later, and Chrysler is happy with his decision and said he’d make the same one again.

“There’s no better place cheaper, and there’s no cheaper place that’s better. It’s a terrific place to live,”  he said.

Inuvo’s story isn’t something that’s unique to only them. 

Other companies have also set their sights on Arkansas, but are choosing the northwest portion of the state.

This is the case for companies like Ohio-based Spartan Logistics, which moved to Fort Smith. It’s also the case for electric carmaker Canoo, which is setting up shop in Bentonville.

With more and more businesses coming to the area, northwest Arkansas is booming more than anywhere else in the state.

“You’re talking billions of dollars. Walmart itself is Fortune 1 on the Fortune 500 list. I mean, it doesn’t get any bigger than that,” Arkansas Secretary of Commerce, Mike Preston said. 

Preston said the main reason companies are choosing the northwest region over central Arkansas is coming down to just that – other major companies that are already there in the area.

You take a look and you’ll see Walmart, Tyson, and J.B. Hunt, which are all major companies that call northwest Arkansas home. 

From there, you add in the University of Arkansas acting as an anchor for the region, and it’s a recipe for substantial growth.

According to the Northwest Arkansas Council’s State of the Region Report for 2021, over $3 billion was generated in the past seven years along with 26,000 jobs that have been created since 2015.

“It’s a great place to be, [I] love Northwest Arkansas,” Preston said. 

Preston also shared another reason why some companies are leaving their homes to relocate to the Natural State – and it started with the pandemic.

“Through the pandemic, you don’t necessarily have to live in New York or California or one of the coasts. You can live in the heart of the country and still have a great paying job but you have a great quality of life,”  he said.

Factor that, along with how cost effective it is to do business in Arkansas, and you can see why many companies are making the move.

According to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Natural State has the fourth lowest cost for doing business in the entire country.

Preston said he’s hopeful that cost effectiveness, along with comparable cost of living, can bring more businesses down to central Arkansas.

“I like the next 10 years for us to really take off in central Arkansas,” he said. “Ten years, hopefully we sit down and have another conversation. Hopefully it’s only five years.”

He’s not the only one anticipating that growth for the central portion of the state either, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that central Arkansas already has the groundwork for that boom.

“We’ve got to remember in central Arkansas there is a very good foundation and there’s growth of technology that’s happening here as well,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson has made it a priority to attract companies to the state, making several trips to Silicon Valley with Preston.

“We want to get them here, to see what we have and to see our opportunities,” Hutchinson said. “Then it’s a pretty easy sale after that, to say this is a pretty easy location to be.”

It’s a sell that’s already worked in northwest Arkansas. Back at Inuvo, Chrysler is hopeful that it can work in central Arkansas too.

“There’s just no reason I think, you know, to look elsewhere,” Chrysler said. 

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