Summit, Sparks Quantified as Leaders in Local Economy

Two of the largest employers in the Fort Smith River Valley are also two of the area’s economic leaders, a recent report shows.

Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren generate nearly $376 million in economic activity every year in Arkansas. The impact was outlined in the Community Benefit Report, which describes the two hospitals’ influence not only in their roles as employers and buyers, but also in their ripple effect of related dollars throughout cities and communities.

Sparks and Summit are two of the largest tax-paying entities and employers in the River Valley. Sparks is a 492-bed acute-care hospital serving Sebastian County and the surrounding area, while Summit is a 103-bed acute-care hospital serving Crawford County and the surrounding area.

In 2011, according to the report, the hospitals combined paid more than $9 million in taxes, employed more than 1,760 people and paid more than $129 million in wages and benefits. Summit also pays a $775,000 annual lease to Crawford County, which covers a large portion of county employees’ salaries.

The report also noted the two hospitals donated more than $260,000 to local charities and provided $69.2 million in uncompensated care in 2011. Health Management Associates Inc. of Naples, Fla., whose portfolio includes 70 hospitals in 15 states, operates both facilities.