Northwest Arkansas is becoming the Silicon Valley of freight

This fireside chat recap is from Day 2 of FreightWaves’ The Future of Supply Chain live event being held in Rogers, Arkansas. For more information and content from the event, click here.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Northwest Arkansas as a freight innovation hub — and a great place to live.

DETAILS: Northwest Arkansas has emerged as an incubator for transportation and logistics technology while becoming one of the most desirable places to live and work in the United States.

SPEAKERS: Steuart Walton, co-founder of Runway Group, and Cyrus Sigari, co-founder and managing partner of UP.Partners.

BIOS: Walton’s Runway Group invests in real estate, hospitality and outdoor recreation in Northwest Arkansas. He is also the founder and chairman of Game Composites, a company that designs and builds small composite aircraft. In addition, he serves on the board of directors of Walmart, which was founded by his grandfather, Sam Walton. He previously worked in London for Allen & Overy LLP and Walmart’s international division, focusing on mergers and acquisitions.

Sigari’s UP.Partners is a venture capital firm supporting companies that are creating technologies that help move people and goods. He also serves as executive chairman of jetAVIVA, a company he co-founded and one of the largest sellers of business aircraft in the world. In 2022, Sigari was appointed chairman of the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. 

Key quotes from Walton

“There is so much going on in the United States. And there’s so much going on — that’s not on the coasts — in this heartland. And we want to be a beacon … for other towns, other regions in this part of the world to say, ‘Hey, if they did it, so can we.’”

“Arkansas also is quite a rural state. And there’s, I think, there’s a real play because a lot of these technologies will be either more relevant to rural parts of the country or first experimented with and tested and sort of developed in rural parts of the country. And so, again, there’s another area for the state to really kind of promote itself and lend itself to this kind of innovation and the transportation of goods.”

Key quotes from Sigari

“I mean, just down the road here in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, you have Zipline delivering goods to customers in partnership with Walmart. You see the Gatik autonomous trucks outside. You see companies like Canoe, an electric vehicle manufacturer that’s going to start manufacturing here in Bentonville.”

“With the governor’s mandate to myself, from our council members is let’s make Arkansas the shining beacon on the hill, where every entrepreneur on the planet that wants to move things quicker, faster, safer, lower cost and do it with the biggest companies of the world, they have one place in mind they think of. It’s coming to Arkansas so they can expand the benefits of their technologies and their businesses.”

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