Amid modest overall job growth, the central Arkansas region's financial sector added jobs at nearly twice the U.S. average from 2017 to 2019, according to Metroplan's 2019 Economic Review and Outlook report released Wednesday.
More: See the full report.
The report looked at at the region's economy with a focus on the finance-technology (fintech) industry.
It said the Venture Center, housed in Little Rock's Technology Park, is building a track record for nurturing startups in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and fintech through its FIS Fintech and ICBA ThinkTECH acclerators.
In addition, Bond.ai, a graduate of the Venture Center's FIS fintech accelerator program, is launching an app that uses AI to help people manage their financial wellness, according to the report.
The report also said:
- In 2019, the region's labor force participation reached 50.6%, its highest level since 2012. Ample job openings have lured idle workers back into the labor force, with women rejoining at a higher rate than men.
- Nonresidential construction during 2018 recorded its highest dollar values ever, even after an inflation adjustment. Large new projects, including the Bank OZK headquarters in Little Rock, a new CARTI facility and the First Orion/Argenta Plaza project in North Little Rock represent major investments.
- Single-family median new-home value, at $196,874, reached its highest level ever in 2018.
- Maumelle saw its single-family median new home value surpass $300,000 for the first time.
- Opportunity Zones are boosting investment and land development in several older portions of Conway, Jacksonville and Little Rock.