AR Leaders Learn from NWA Economic Success

Rogers, AR - Hundreds of city leaders from across Arkansas are in Rogers this week to learn ways to improve their own communities.

This is the first time for Northwest Arkansas to host the Arkansas Municipal League's Winter Conference, and the region's economic success was on display Thursday.

"The cities are alive up here," says Executive Director Don Zimmerman." There's a lot of spirit in them and they're really setting a good example for cities all across the state."

The voluntary organization brings together 500 cities and towns to learn from each other.

"We hope that they're full of knowledge," Zimmerman says. "We've given them the latest laws that the legislature passed last year... and then we've got a lot of examples of what other cities are doing to improve themselves."

Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Clark says the Northwest corner is Arkansas' best example of economic success. Clark joined Springdale and Rogers chamber representatives to share the region's story, and how local leaders are making it happen.

"The collective is what makes us strong, so it's not just Fayetteville, it's Fayetteville and Bentonville, or its not just Fayetteville and Bentonville, it's Rogers and Springdale," Clark says. "We are the fourth fastest growing in creating the most jobs."

Clark says the area is blessed with plenty of resources.

"We have the university and it's 25,000 students," he says. "We have the community college and it's 7000 students. We have Walmart. We have Tysons. We have JB Hunt, but I likened it to good fertile soil. If you've got good soil, you still have to till that soil."

Regional cooperation is vital to success, but Clark says statewide partnerships are just as important.

"We can have a collaborative effort... which allows Arkansas to compete as a state with California, or Florida, or Texas, or Michigan or New York, where they have more people and more resources," he says.

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