A Tale of Two Cities: Rural and Urban Arkansas

February 27, 2021

Development

Rural vs. Urban

NWA Daily (Rural Washington County)

It is interesting this story follows the article we shared about the "Life Works Here" campaign incentivizing people to relocate to NWA... According to the Rural Profile of Arkansas' 2021 biennial report, small towns and rural areas are continuing to see a steady loss of business, along with the migration of youth and talent to urban areas.

  • The Rural Profile of Arkansas report has been produced by the University of Arkansas for more than 30 years and aims to provide a greater understanding of the social, demographic and economic conditions in rural and urban regions in the state.
  • Lead author of the report, Wayne Miller, mentioned that this has been a steady trend for nearly ten years and can be attributed to a lack of jobs, entertainment and amenities in more rural areas. "All rural areas are not going to survive, we have a global economy now... they [rural areas] will have to reinvent themselves to survive - there needs to be good infrastructure, healthcare and education," Miller said.
  • For example, Benton and Washington County had a net migration population of 44,630 and 21,463. This was significantly more than anywhere else in the state from 2010 to 2019. Additionally, the study found the median age is higher in rural areas. Coincidentally, Benton County (14%) and Washington County (12%) have the lowest percentages for residence 65 or older.
  • Listen to the full interview on KUAF or read the full report HERE

Business

Women of Color Faced with Entrepreneurship Barriers

Northwest Arkansas is known for its startup culture. Whether you're talking about restaurants, technology companies, supply chain, or acai bowls (which we wrote about here), the resources are abundant. However, are the same opportunities and resources available to all?

  • In a recent study conducted by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas and the University of Central Arkansas, researchers sought to identify gaps in Arkansas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem, specifically for black female business owners. The study overwhelmingly found that access to capital was the largest barrier for participants -Talk Business & Politics
  • The study began in early 2020 and included multiple focus groups with 44 women of color who started and own businesses in Arkansas. The report also examined how these business owners adapted to the pandemic economy. 41% of participants mentioned they received some sort of aid from government programs - yet 58.8% said they received none at all.
  • “Women of color business owners have basically had to figure it out on their own because of systemic barriers," said Women's Foundation of Arkansas Executive Director Anna Beth Gorman. -Talk Business & Politics
  • Furthermore, Gorman mentioned that black women own 60% of all black-owned businesses in the state. The study also found that 72% of women of color in the study created their own businesses in pursuit of financial security and work flexibility; Nearly half were also pursuing a passion and community service.
  • Interested and want to read more? It can be found HERE

Business

14 Billion Dollars...Yes, Billion. With a B.

NWA Daily (Arvest Bank, Northwest Arkansas)

As of December 31 2020, Arvest Bank's wealth management division has grown its assets under management, surpassing the $14 billion mark. In addition, Arvest Wealth Management reported $69 million in revenues last year.

  • In 2020, the division’s assets under management increased by $1.2 billon, adding to the $13.2 billion under management in 2019. Revenues for the company remained fairly steady from 2019 to 2020, reporting $69.6 million in 2019 and $69 million in 2020.
  • “COVID-19 caught the world by surprise and sent shockwaves through the financial markets. Our investment and trust advisors embraced a rapid rollout of new communications technology and provided their customers with much-needed guidance," said Arvest Wealth Management President and CEO Jim King. -Arkansas Money & Politics
  • Arvest Bank is the 87th largest bank in the United States when it comes to asset's managed.

Health

Mass Vaccination this Weekend

The Northwest Arkansas Council is organizing a mass vaccination clinic in Lowell on Friday, Feb. 26, from 8am to 4pm in the parking lot of J.B. Hunt headquarters. The clinic is intended to be a "trial run" to prepare for more large-scale events in the region and state. the mass vaccination plans to vaccinate up to 3,000 seniors.

  • Although the state's vaccine rollout plan includes health care workers, workers in education, and residents 65 and older, this weekend’s event will be reserved for Benton County residents 70 and older.
  • “The plan is to prove NWA worthy, and get more vaccines in our corner of the state to keep it moving forward with more such events, even having a semi permanent event space hopefully set up in Fayetteville in the future," said Fayetteville Public Heath officer Marti Sharkey. - Fayetteville Flyer
  • This clinic will be distributing the Moderna vaccine and healthcare workers from all across the region will be volunteering. Spanish and Marshallese interpreters will be present as well.
  • To determine eligibility or sign up for this weekend’s clinic, visit HERE. Registration is also available by calling 833-364-6777. We challenge you to share this with someone who would qualify.

Community

Reflecting on NWA Law Enforcement Experience

I Am Northwest Arkansas sat down with former Fayetteville Police Chief Frank Johnson to discuss the police-community relationship in Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas. Johnson was the first African American Police Chief in NWA and also an adjunct professor in criminal justice at the U of A. Fun fact - one of Johnson's students was current Fayetteville Police Chief, Mike Reynolds.

  • Johnson spoke to the growing relationship between officers and the community. "The one thing that I always knew - that is now exemplified with Chief Reynolds - is that those guys are very personable... they truly have an interest in the safety of every citizen regardless of ethnicity," he said.
  • In response to a question about the state of law enforcement in the United States, Johnson believes law enforcement, at it's cultural core, is constantly being reimagined in pragmatic departments such as Fayetteville's.
  • Johnson continued to say, law enforcement must take an active approach to improving their traditional ways of operating and bring the community into public safety strategies. "Our city government is efficient, transparent and beautiful," Johnson said. "Come, participate, and get involved."
  • Listen to the full podcast episode HERE.

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