Arkansas Tech Introduces Business Index

The Arkansas Tech University College of Business has released an economic index that it hopes will provide a snapshot of economic activity across Arkansas and, specifically, in 16 municipalities.

The Arkansas Tech Business Index (ATBI) was released Wednesday and is available at ATU.edu/atbi. The index includes monthly data for the 16 selected Arkansas communities from 2009-2013. The university says the index will be updated on a monthly basis and analysis will be provided each quarter.

The 16 municipalities selected are Bentonville, Conway, El Dorado, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Rogers, Russellville, Searcy, Springdale, Texarkana and West Memphis.

"We created this index to better connect the Arkansas Tech College of Business with the state's business community by offering them a high quality, valuable economic gauge," Ed Bashaw, dean of the College of Business and professor of marketing, said in a news release. "At a cursory level, the viewer of the ATBI will have a summary number to assess a community's economic conditions. At a deeper level, we give viewers access to the formative data used in the creation of the index for them to better evaluate certain aspects of the index for their community."

Marc Fusaro, associate professor of economics at Arkansas Tech, developed the instrument for the ATBI, and said he believes the index provides interested parties with a resource that did not previously exist.

"We wanted, and thought the market needed, a simple summary of economic activity," he said in a release. "So we created a simple index which increases when economic activity increased and falls when the economy slows."

The index is based at 100, which means a city above 100 is doing better than the state average since 2009.

Nine of the 16 communities were above 100 in the initial index rankings. Bentonville had the highest index at 105.3. All northwest Arkansas communities included in the index — Rogers, Springdale, Bentonville, Fayetteville and Fort Smith — were above 100.

Users will be able to analyze statewide performance by assessing the number of cities above or below 100, in addition to utilizing the ATBI data on a city-by-city basis to determine how a particular community has grown or retracted over a period of time, the university said. The comparison of economic performance of different cities will also be possible.

To view the index, click here.