Hot Springs Area Enjoying Pre-recession Growth in Jobs, Construction and Revenues

By any measure, the greater Hot Springs region is growing.

The evidence is in the number of people, jobs, revenues, new developments and construction abundant in the area.

The 2010 census showed the Hot Springs Metro Area with 8,000 more people than 2000, a 9-percent increase. Employment and sales tax collections showed the Spa City and five-county area returning to pre-recession figures by the end of 2011.

Reports from the Bureau of Labor Standards and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services showed the Hot Springs Metro’s 2011 total employment high, reached in July, at 42,075. That was higher than any pre-crash point since July 2008.

Sales tax collections in 2011 surpassed those of 2008, indicating tourism was back to pre-recession standards and residents had resumed normal shopping habits.

In fact, Hot Springs was in the top 10 of the nation’s metro areas throughout the last half of 2010 and all of 2011 in job growth.

Many of those jobs are because of significant construction activity, both new buildings and the renovation of existing facilities for new purposes. The Fairgrounds Crossing Shopping Center, at the Martin Luther King Expressway and Higdon Ferry Road, has seen more than $5 million worth of shopping space erected and occupied since 2009.

Projects like the Tractor Supply Co., the retrofitting of former Lake Hamilton Resort to The Atrium assisted living facility and the construction of a 60,000-square foot warehouse by Rexam Closures and Containers – now Berry Plastics Co. – put new space into the commercial market and new jobs into the labor market.

The medical community continues to grow, with construction of medical and health service facilities on Sawtooth Oak off Malvern, as well as a major medical office facility going up next to National Park Medical Center. More medical facilities were built near the Mercy campus on Werner as well.

Housing developments off Airport Road were strengthening as 2012 opened and construction thrived at Forest Lakes, an over-55 development off Twin Lakes Road.

Road projects improved traffic flow on Highways 70 and 270, while the widening of Higdon Ferry from the MLK Expressway south to Central eased traffic congestion on the city’s main artery.

In September 2011, voters approved a sales tax increase to fund construction and operation of a major new detention center west of Hot Springs. Construction is expected to begin this year.

In August, Clark County announced a $1 million grant for construction of an industrial rail spur in the Clark County Industrial Park. The project, estimated at $2,315,075, will support expansion and growth of new industries in Clark, Dallas, Montgomery, Nevada, and Pike counties.