The Faulkner County Economy: Growth and Stability That Stand Out

A casual survey of recent global and national economic indicators can be nauseating if not downright frightening. But a look at the local business activity should offer some much needed affirmation that there is still shelter available from recent economic storms. Conway and Faulkner County’s economy has transformed itself in the last 10 years. Since 2000, there has been a net increase of almost 8,000 new jobs. From 2009-2010 alone, 1,500 jobs were created. Those new jobs have allowed the county to enjoy an unemployment rate more than two points below the national average. During that same period, Conway’s unemployment rate was consistently three or more points below the national average.

There aren’t just more jobs available for Faulkner County residents. There are better jobs available. In the last 10 years, Faulkner County residents have seen their average weekly wages increase by 47 percent. That represents an increase of $12,000 per job. The county’s economy is less reliant on manufacturing and has established itself as a leader in the high-growth energy, information and health care sectors.

The economy is also more diverse than ever, adding more than 1,000 new businesses this decade. While Conway and Faulkner County have witnessed the arrival of major employers Hewlett-Packard (1,400 employees) and Southwestern Energy (1,200), the average employees per business has decreased. That shows small business is alive and well in Faulkner County. With a higher number of smaller successful businesses comes insulation from economic downturns.

Education will always be at the heart of Conway’s economic success. With more than a third of the adult workforce having bachelor’s degrees, Conway outpaces the national average by almost 10 percent. The educated workforce puts Conway in a position to compete globally for the jobs of tomorrow.

Conway’s economy has successfully bucked national trends and stands as an example of strong fundamentals and thoughtful growth. Its success proves that education, infrastructure, quality workforce and a pro-growth attitude are the recipe for economic prosperity no matter the year.

AETN Programming Educates Arkansans

The Arkansas Educational Television Network, based in Conway and affiliated with the Public Broadcasting Service, covers most of Arkansas as well as parts of surrounding states.

AETN has proved to be a national trendsetter in online delivery of educational professional development. Created and maintained by AETN and the Arkansas Department of Education, ArkansasIDEAS (Internet Delivered Education for Arkansas Schools) is an online resource for Arkansas’ teachers and administrators.

AETN provides an extensive library of streamed video for inclusion in lesson plans, classroom presentations and student projects. AETN and the Arkansas Governors’ Quiz Bowl Association coordinate efforts to share the accomplishments of Arkansas’ outstanding student scholars, including the live broadcast of the final rounds of the annual competition.