The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers region was ranked as one of the most dynamic metropolitan areas in new study.
In Heartland Forward’s new “Most Dynamic Metropolitans 2020” rankings, the “Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas-Missouri” area cracked the top 20. This area was ranked at no. 17 among metro regions and was ranked third among medium metros.
Heartland Forward looked at a total of 379 metro areas in compiling its rankings. The research organization noted that only one large metro is in the bottom quartile of the rankings with 25 in the top quartile, and that the Heartland region only had five metros in the top 30.
According to Heartland Forward’s executive summary, the ranking is designed to be an “objective measure of the economic vibrancy of metropolitan areas across the nation” and to provide metrics for recent performance for these metros and the prospects for the metros’ long-term growth.
The Heartland Forward researchers used a range of metrics in developing the rankings, including job growth, average annual earnings and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) gains. They also incorporated newer statistics, including the proportion of total jobs at young firms and the educational attainment of employees at young firms, into the ranking criteria.
Top-performing metro areas had multiple characteristics in common, according to the study. Commonalities included “knowledge-intensive, high value-added industries that hire an above-average share of employees with advanced degrees and heavily invest in research and development.” These companies tend to be high-tech, such as telecommunications, information services and specialized manufacturing industries. Metros that had bustling scientific and professional communities, especially information services, data processing companies, artificial intelligence and machine learning companies, social media and digital media companies and more, scored high on the Heartland Forward rankings.
The presence of research universities, four-year colleges and business financing also was a common factor among the top-ranked metros. Heartland Forward cited the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville as an example of a leading research university that contributed to the dynamic nature of its metro region. Community colleges, especially those with curriculum designed to fill local employers’ talent pipelines, also were named as a structural advantage for metros.
The Northwest Arkansas region was the only area in the state that made the top 20. Four other Arkansas metro areas were ranked as part of Heartland Forward’s study.
After Northwest Arkansas, Jonesboro was the highest-ranked metro among Arkansas metro areas. It had a ranking of 148 out of 379. This was primarily driven by its young firm employment ratio (no. 71), its short-term job growth (no. 88) and its short-term job momentum (no. 97).
The Hot Springs and Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway metro regions were close in ranking, at no. 245 and no. 251, respectively. The Hot Springs metro’s highest score was for its short-term average pay growth, at no. 60.
Pine Bluff had one of the lowest metro rankings, coming in at 375 out of 379.
The top 10 ranked metros, in descending order from no. 1, were Midland, Texas; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; Provo-Orem, Utah; Boulder, Colo.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Austin-Round Rock, Texas; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.; Greeley, Colo.; Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla.; and St. George, Utah.