October 19, 2020

Seven-point Plan Charts Northwest Arkansas' (NWA) Economic Recovery from COVID-19


New report offers data-driven recommendations for NWA leaders and lessons for other communities navigating the economic crisis

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Today Heartland Forward published its latest report, "Northwest Arkansas Economic Recovery Strategy," which lays out a strategy for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and long-term prosperity for the Northwest Arkansas (NWA) region, comprising of Fayetteville, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Siloam Springs. As the pandemic reshapes work and life across America, NWA has the opportunity to compete with major metropolitan areas for the brightest talent in the country. Heartland Forward's seven data-driven recommendations are tailored for NWA, but they offer lessons to leaders across the Heartland, whose communities may benefit from trends like the movement out of large cities and the explosion of remote work.

The pandemic is accelerating trends that could favor Heartland communities like Northwest Arkansas," said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. "Workers are looking for appealing alternatives to crowded cities, and NWA is already weathering the COVID-19 crisis better than its metropolitan counterparts. If it invests in attracting talent, increasing quality of place and supporting the business ecosystem, it can compete with superstar coastal cities.

Heartland Forward's plan for NWA consists of seven key points:

  1. 1Become the Heartland's leading small region for talent
  2. 2Be the Heartland's best small place for arts, culture and recreation
  3. 3Grow the economy and jobs around big company anchors
  4. 4Bolster the region's small business and startup ecosystem
  5. 5Make inclusion and diversity a regional priority
  6. 6Put health at the center of the agenda
  7. 7Rebrand and market the region

To reach its recommendations, Heartland Forward analyzed data on NWA's talent base, business environment, and evolving demographics. Heartland Forward scholars also conducted in-depth interviews with representatives from the region's core sectors and communities.

"Northwest Arkansas has developed a comprehensive post-COVID-19 recovery strategy that can be a model for cities across the United States and the world,” said Richard Florida, the leading urbanist and a senior fellow at Heartland Forward and co-author of the report. “This strategy leverages the tremendous progress, assets and investments that have been made in the region, and positions Northwest Arkansas to recover in a way that is more inclusive and resilient. While every community is different, our hope is that stakeholders from urban, suburban and rural communities across the country will be inspired by our work to develop strategies for their own communities.

The full report and recommendations can be found here. https://heartlandforward.org/northwest-arkansas-economic-recovery-strategy

About Heartland Forward:
Heartland Forward's mission is to improve economic performance in the center of the United States by advocating for fact-based solutions to foster job creation, knowledge-based and inclusive growth, and improved health outcomes. We conduct independent, data-driven research to facilitate action-oriented discussion and impactful policy recommendations.
Contact: media@heartlandforward.org