FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Northwest Arkansas leaders and groups’ priorities for the 2023 legislative session include healthcare, workforce development and transportation.

Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Clark said investing in transportation, like improvements to secondary roads, is critical. Clark said he also wants to see an expansion of on-demand bus service to other cities in the region.

“You could call or go online and make an appointment and a vehicle would show up to get you, to take you there, not getting on a bus and riding around all the way around,” Clark said.

For the Northwest Arkansas Council, President and CEO Nelson Peacock, said increasing medical residencies in the area is a key focus for this legislative session. He said the region is losing about $1 billion a year for people leaving the region for healthcare.

“We really want to try to close that gap, get state funding to help us develop those 100 additional residencies, and that’s our primary focus for the session,” Peacock said.

NWA Council is hoping to get a total of 200 residencies to the area.

Clark and Peacock also said addressing workforce development is important to help fill the thousands of open jobs in Northwest Arkansas. Peacock said he wants to see more investment in training programs.

“One of the more important ones is the tech apprenticeship program that was started about five years ago,” Peacock said. “That’s a really important program, a lot of our companies here are using that to bring on tech talent to get them trained up within their systems, and they’re able to bring them on full time.”

Clark and Peacock also said they will be keeping an eye on education reform during the session, such as expanding pre-k throughout the state.