Fort Smith Leads ATBI in Second Quarter of 2014

Fort Smith Leads ATBI in Second Quarter of 2014
John Womack, chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank of Central Arkansas (Mike Pirnique)

For the second quarter of 2014, Fort Smith remained the leading city on the Arkansas Tech Business Index.

It was a clean sweep for northwest Arkansas, which held all of the top five rankings from numbers compiled from April through June. Fort Smith (108.76) was followed by Fayetteville (104.65), Springdale (104.25), Rogers (104.14) and Bentonville (103.92). 

The index is based around 100. A city above 100 indicates economic activity better than the state average since 2009.

Five other cities also topped 100 in the second quarter. Conway (103.24) was the highest-ranked city not in northwest Arkansas. It also saw the largest jump from the first quarter to the second quarter, 1.74 points. 

Conway was followed by Van Buren (102.92), Searcy (101.70), Jonesboro (101.35) and Hot Springs (100.34). This was the debut of Van Buren in the ATBI, which now follows the economic activity of 17 cities across Arkansas.

Russellville (98.10) was the highest-rated city below the state average in the second quarter. It was followed by Little Rock (97.18), North Little Rock (96.08), West Memphis (94.58), El Dorado (94.04), Texarkana (93.36) and Pine Bluff (92.20).

"The strength of the Conway and Hot Springs economies is evident in these numbers and matches what our community leaders are seeing from their business customers," John Womack, chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank of Central Arkansas, said in the news release.

Arvest Bank is the sponsor of ATBI.

"And, while the Little Rock and North Little Rock index numbers remain below 100, they have both shown significant growth year-over-year indicating that there is momentum building, which also matches our experience on the ground in those areas," Womack said.

Fort Smith Also Leads June Index

Fort Smith overtook Bentonville in March, and has led the ATBI ever since.

It led the June index with a 109.78 rating. It was followed by Fayetteville (105.47), Conway (104.67), Springdale (104.55) and Bentonville (104.21). 

Five other cities were rated above the state average. Rogers (104.16), Searcy (103.69), Van Buren (103.59), Hot Springs (102.10) and Jonesboro (101.51) rounded out the top 10. 

Little Rock (94.15) was the No. 16-rated city. It was trailed only by Pine Bluff (92.92).

Again, Russellville (99.92) was the highest-rated municipality not above the state average. It was followed by West Memphis (96.38), North Little Rock (96.27), El Dorado (95.42) and Texarkana (94.92).

 Springdale Takes Labor Market Index

Powered by the lowest unemployment rate and fifth-largest labor force of cities in the index, Springdale jumped out ahead of June's labor market index with a 109.35 rating.

It was followed by Van Buren (108.14), Rogers (107.66), Bentonville (106.83) and North Little Rock (105.22).

Bentonville and Rogers joined Springdale as the only municipalities with an unemployment rate below 5 percent. Springdale's was the lowest at 4.4 percent, followed by Bentonville (4.6) and Rogers (4.9).

Little Rock (96.38) had the largest labor force (93,676), number of employed workers (88,072) and number of unemployed workers (5,604) in June. It's unemployment rate was in the lower half, at 6 percent.

West Memphis (85.81) and Pine Bluff (96.63) had the highest unemployment rates, at 12.2 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively. West Memphis was also the lowest-rated city in the labor market index.

Bentonville Takes Construction Index

Bentonville was well above the state average in the construction index, at 112.24, and outpaced its closest competitor, Jonesboro, by nearly five points.

Jonesboro followed behind at 107.85, and was trailed by Fort Smith (106.18), West Memphis (104) and Fayetteville (102.38). 

Texarkana (101.86), Pine Bluff (101.16) and El Dorado (101.02) were the only other cities above 100.

Little Rock was the lowest-rated city at 85.49. It's fellow Pulaski County city, North Little Rock, was No. 15 at 94.66.



Northwest Arkansas Dominates Retail Index

Fort Smith, which also led the second quarter and overall index for June, edged out Fayetteville by less than a point to lead the retail index.

The two northwest Arkansas cities came in at 117.96 and 117.37, respectively. They outpaced the third-highest city, Little Rock, by nearly 10 points.

Little Rock (108.74) was followed by Rogers (108.38) and Searcy (107.12). Three of the top five cities were northwest Arkansas towns.

Van Buren (106.13), Conway (104.34), Springdale (103.92) and Russellville (101.23) were the only other cities above the state average.

North Little Rock was the lowest-rated city at 83.75.

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