Consider 2012 One Wild Ride

by Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Staff  on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 2:49 pm  

No sooner had the Supreme Court upheld in June the individual health-insurance mandate that is at the heart of President Obama’s legislation than Republican leaders began efforts to repeal it. Obama’s victory at the polls in November, however, effectively killed those efforts. Even House Speaker John Boehner deemed Obamacare “the law of the land” after the election.

Now the race is on to prepare for the imminent changes. Or, as Regions Insurance executive vice president Tom Hayes wrote in a guest commentary:

“Most everyone will pay something for health coverage, and that coverage will, at least in the short term, be more expensive. And the health care system this country has known is changed forever.”


5. Fort Smith in Flux — It was a sad day in June when Whirpool Corp. closed its doors in Fort Smith, leaving hundreds unemployed.

The closing had been announced in 2011, but that did little to lessen the sting. Perhaps that’s because Whirpool’s exit was just the latest in a string of events erasing — at least largely — Fort Smith’s status as a manufacturing hub.

We later were pleased to hear the success stories of the some of the displaced workers, and even more heartened by recent news that Walther Arms Inc. will move to the Chaffee Crossing development and share a campus with Umarex USA. Combined, the companies plan to invest more than $7 million toward expanding the facility and operations over the next five years, and the expansion should create between 70 and 120 jobs over the same period.

Fort Smith also made headlines in 2012 for ongoing fundraising efforts associated with the U.S. Marshals Museum, as well as efforts to deepen the Arkansas River and build a slackwater harbor. All of it makes us wonder if 2012 someday will be viewed as the year Fort Smith began to redefine itself.


6. Student Surge — Seeing record enrollment the last couple of years at the University of Arkansas, developers of multifamily housing rushed to meet the anticipated need for student apartments in Fayetteville.

The university enrolled 24,537 students this fall, up 5.8 percent from the previous year.

New apartment projects targeting the student market include a $26.5 million complex called The Grove at Fayetteville, which opened this summer with 632 beds.



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