Bentonville Leads the Pack in Arkansas Tech Business Index

Bentonville maintained its position with the highest index rating of 16 municipalities in Arkansas, in addition to showing the greatest gain from December, according to data compiled from January by the Arkansas Tech Business Index.

The index, known as ATBI, was introduced earlier this month, and includes monthly data for 16 selected Arkansas communities from 2009-2013. Arkansas Tech will update the index on a monthly basis and provide analysis each quarter. The ATBI includes a labor index, housing market index, construction index and retail sales index. 

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.

With it, Arkansas Tech hopes to provide a snapshot of economic activity in the state.

Bentonville saw an increase of 3.2 points in January compared to numbers in December 2013. The city's rating came in at 108.58, and was one of six, or 37.5 percent of the 16 municipalities, with a rating above 100 in January.

The index is based on 100. A city above that rating shows the city is doing better than the state average from 2009 to present. 

Other cities above 100 in January were Rogers, 103.73, Fayetteville, 103.55, Springdale, 102.33, North Little Rock, 100.27, and Conway, 100.01.

Springdale, with a gain of 0.3 points, was the only other city to see an increase from its December numbers. 

Of the cities still above 100, Conway saw the largest drop between December and January, dropping 2.08 points from a 102.09 rating in the last month of 2013.

Four cities — Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Jonesboro and Little Rock — all dropped below a 100 rating in January after posting an index rating above 100 in December.

Overall, West Memphis, 4.28 points, saw the biggest decline, falling from 97.66 in December to 93.38 in January. Searcy had the lowest index rating at 85.64, down 2.92 points from December.

2013 Fourth-Quarter Numbers 

Bentonville was also the highest rated municipality, in terms of numbers from the fourth-quarter of 2013. The city's index rating was 105.64, compared to 105.52 in the third-quarter and 106.51 in the second-quarter.

Conway, 101.3, Fayetteville, 104.61, Fort Smith, 102.32, Hot Springs, 100.72, Jonesboro, 101.08, North Little Rock, 101.57, Rogers, 104.67, and Springdale, 102.58, were also above 100 in the fourth-quarter.

Searcy had the lowest fourth-quarter numbers, coming in at 88.71. That's compared to third-quarter numbers of 89.26 and 88.77 in the second-quarter.

2013 Overall Numbers

In a clean-sweep, Bentonville also outperformed all other selected cities for the year with a 106.08 ATBI rating. Still, that number was down from the city's index in 2012, 106.11, and 2011, 107.35.

It was a trend that was seen across the state as Mark Fusaro, associate professor of economics at Arkansas Tech, said five-eighths of the cities outperformed the historical average, but only three-eighths had a higher reading than in 2012.

Conway, 101.54, Fayetteville, 104.77, Fort Smith, 102.88, Hot Springs, 101.05, Jonesboro, 100.78, North Little Rock, 101.55, Rogers, 104.37, Russellville, 100.42, and Springdale, 102.83, were above 100 for 2013.

But only Conway, Fayetteville and Fort Smith saw numbers higher than in 2012. Fort Smith was the only of the three to see a higher rating in 2013 than in both 2012 and 2011.

Searcy, 88.70, saw the lowest rating for 2013. That was down from 88.26 in 2012 and 97.48 in 2011.

For a full look at the ATBI, click here.