Fort Smith Overtakes Bentonville in Arkansas Tech Business Index

by Lee Hogan  on Monday, Jun. 23, 2014 10:17 am  

Since its introduction months ago, Bentonville has remained atop the Arkansas Tech Business Index. That changed Monday when the index released its data compiled for March and showed another northwest Arkansas city on top.

It was a strong retail rating and a two large projects moving forward that pushed Fort Smith ahead of Bentonville to take the top spot of the index — in both the March and first quarter indexes — which rates the economic activity for 16 municipalities in Arkansas. The city had a rating of 108.36 for March and 106.32 in the first quarter. It also saw the largest increase in the first quarter, 0.98 points, and in March, 2.21 points.

"Fort Smith came on strong in the first quarter ATBI," Marc Fusaro, associate professor of economics at Arkansas Tech and developer of the instrument for the ATBI, said in a news release. 

Fusaro said a retail sales index rating of 116.7 in the first quarter, along with the permit approvals for the Marcy Clinic and Mill Creek Wastewater Pump Station, helped cover for two slow months of construction. 

The top five index ratings were dominated by northwest Arkansas with Fort Smith, Rogers, Fayetteville, Springdale and Bentonville taking the top five spots in both.

In the March index, Fort Smith was trailed by Rogers, Fayetteville, Springdale and Bentonville. 

Conway, 102.49, and Hot Springs, 100.85, were the only other cities with a rating above 100.

Little Rock came in at 98.53. The capital city's rating has dropped two consecutive months from a 100.12 rating in January. Little Rock had below average ratings in both labor market, and housing and real estate during March, while its construction and retail indexes were above the state average.

Pine Bluff had the lowest March rating at 91.96. It was followed by West Memphis, El Dorado, Texarkana and North Little Rock.

Pine Bluff also had the lowest rating of the first quarter at 91.96. It was trailed by the same four cities, although in a slightly different order. In the quarterly numbers, Texarkana posted the second-lowest rating, followed by West Memphis, El Dorado and North Little Rock.



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