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Fort Smith, AR


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I think Ft Smith has been fueling NWA's growth for some time, taking a lot of its brighter college-educated 20-somethings. Things like this only push this trend along.

I saw today where 83% of new jobs created in Arkansas are in the Little Rock and Fayetteville MSAs, BTW.

Yeah in some ways it's hard to tell except in one aspect. Now that the kids of many of the Vietnamese that settled in Ft Smith after the war are old enough to go to college. I don't think there used to hardly be any Vietnamese up here in northwest Arkansas. Now they are a lot more common. Not on a Ft Smith scale of course but it's a growing trend. It's sad to see so little being done outside of northwest and central Arkansas. If you add a couple other areas, Jonesboro for one, there they'd probably take up just about all the new jobs.

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It looks like Academy Sports will be building an 80,000 square foot store in Fort Smith. The Store is actually going to break ground sometime after New Years Day.

It will be along Phoenix Avenue and Adjacent to the Home Depot.

So far, both Sherwood and Little Rock have Academy Sports Stores in Arkansas.

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All I can say is that whoever said that nothing was going on in fort Smith and everybody goes to NWA to do stuff was right on. I guess things don't change that much in 20 years. I've been back in the Fort now for a couple of days and there's plenty of new developement and still nothing to do. Unless you dig giant chain stores and fast food, there's just not much here. If I lived in this state again, I'd leave Back-to-the-Future like streaks of fire behind me getting up that hill to Fayettville. Whoever else said that this place doesn't take full advantage of it's history is also spot on. This place with all it's old west history and heratige has no personality whatsoever.

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I really like Fort Smith...it has a lot of charm, and is a decent-sized city. It is growing and things are happening there...not only in Fort Smith, but Van Buren as well. In some ways, it is better than NWA. It has a much more urban feel to it than NWA. I do believe that the museum would make a great fit for Fort Smith.

NWA has its good qualities, but so does Fort Smith. NWA is up in the Ozarks, still isolated in a lot of ways...Fort Smith is right there off of 2 interstates and several other major highways. It has a vibrant history. It is situated on the banks of two rivers, and has a great Riverfront Park area. The area has a lot of potential.

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Yeah it's another example of another city in Arkansas not living up to it's history and what it has. I think at least Pine Bluff has a little more reason to not be doing too much. I really have a hard time seeign why Ft Smith hasn't made more of an effort. Now that Christmas is over I'm going to start thinking more about checking out some other cities nearby. Ft Smith/Van Buren, Bentonville/Rogers and Eureka Springs are all on that list. If things go well maybe I'll get a chance to hit them all before I take some vacation time in March and go back out west again.

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Yeah it's another example of another city in Arkansas not living up to it's history and what it has. I think at least Pine Bluff has a little more reason to not be doing too much. I really have a hard time seeign why Ft Smith hasn't made more of an effort. Now that Christmas is over I'm going to start thinking more about checking out some other cities nearby. Ft Smith/Van Buren, Bentonville/Rogers and Eureka Springs are all on that list. If things go well maybe I'll get a chance to hit them all before I take some vacation time in March and go back out west again.

The way Ft Smith has developed its downtown is impressive. I have no criticism of that. I agree that it is more urban and has more to offer in some ways than NWA, especially Benton Co. Still, it's all untapped potential right now

The problem is an inability to lure desirable businesses to the area. Its economy is almost entirely service-oriented now that manufacturing has taken a beating, especially now that Beverly will probably make an exit after it is purchased. Meanwhile you have a thriving business zone with a corporate-dominated economy 45 min away to compete with. I'm afraid Ft Smith is dying off.

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The way Ft Smith has developed its downtown is impressive. I have no criticism of that. I agree that it is more urban and has more to offer in some ways than NWA, especially Benton Co. Still, it's all untapped potential right now

The problem is an inability to lure desirable businesses to the area. Its economy is almost entirely service-oriented now that manufacturing has taken a beating, especially now that Beverly will probably make an exit after it is purchased. Meanwhile you have a thriving business zone with a corporate-dominated economy 45 min away to compete with. I'm afraid Ft Smith is dying off.

First off, I would never compare Fort Smith to Pine Bluff!

I know that it seems like it is dying off because of the bad news lately...but I wouldn't count Fort Smith out just yet. The area is getting a lot of new restaurants and is experiencing a housing boom...it just gets overshadowed by NWA. Van Buren is really taking off as well. The building boom in Van Buren can be compared to NWA. I read a news story a while back that talked about the growth of the Fort Smith / Van Buren area...they are building new houses / subdivisions there and a lot of people are choosing to live there and commute to NWA to work. It said that was becoming more common than people realized. Fort Smith has a lot to work with, they will not let themselves die off. Being that close to NWA helps. As far as the economy becoming more service-oriented...that is happening everywhere as other sectors consolidate or outsource.

Edited by tim2462
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First off, I would never compare Fort Smith to Pine Bluff!

I know that it seems like it is dying off because of the bad news lately...but I wouldn't count Fort Smith out just yet. The area is getting a lot of new restaurants and is experiencing a housing boom...it just gets overshadowed by NWA. Van Buren is really taking off as well. The building boom in Van Buren can be compared to NWA. I read a news story a while back that talked about the growth of the Fort Smith / Van Buren area...they are building new houses / subdivisions there and a lot of people are choosing to live there and commute to NWA to work. It said that was becoming more common than people realized. Fort Smith has a lot to work with, they will not let themselves die off. Being that close to NWA helps. As far as the economy becoming more service-oriented...that is happening everywhere as other sectors consolidate or outsource.

Houses and stores mean nothing without jobs. In any case, it's not growing that much, not compared to other urban parts of the state.

I guess what I'm saying is our governor needs to hold some economic incentives out as a carrot to get some businesses to relocate there or carry some jobs there.

Ft Smith won't completely dry up and blow away. Ft Smith will continue to serve as the medical, legal, retail and banking center of Western AR and Eastern OK and serves a quarter million population or more in that capacity. However, it needs real non-service jobs for any kind of growth as these areas really aren't growing much, not enough to sustain significant job growth.

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Not trying to offend anyone by comparing Ft Smith and Pine Bluff but unfortunately there are some trends in Ft Smith that I think Pine Bluff went through a couple of decades ago. I'm not saying that Ft Smith will end up going the same route but I'd certainly say that Ft Smith better step up. Obviously Pine Bluff didn't willingly end up the way it is now. Ft Smith may get some benefits to being close to NWA but it also gets hurt from it. It will probably only get worse too. Just in the same way it's hard for Pine Bluff to develop much to interest people who live there. Most people have the attitude of rather going to Little Rock to shop or eat. As NWA gets more retail and restaurants it's possible that Ft Smith could end up in that situation too. Ft Smith does have the advantage of being bigger than Pine Bluff even during Pine Bluff's glory days. That will help somewhat, but I'd still say that I'd be pretty worried if I lived in Ft Smith. What's going to keep people there?

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Not trying to offend anyone by comparing Ft Smith and Pine Bluff but unfortunately there are some trends in Ft Smith that I think Pine Bluff went through a couple of decades ago. I'm not saying that Ft Smith will end up going the same route but I'd certainly say that Ft Smith better step up. Obviously Pine Bluff didn't willingly end up the way it is now. Ft Smith may get some benefits to being close to NWA but it also gets hurt from it. It will probably only get worse too. Just in the same way it's hard for Pine Bluff to develop much to interest people who live there. Most people have the attitude of rather going to Little Rock to shop or eat. As NWA gets more retail and restaurants it's possible that Ft Smith could end up in that situation too. Ft Smith does have the advantage of being bigger than Pine Bluff even during Pine Bluff's glory days. That will help somewhat, but I'd still say that I'd be pretty worried if I lived in Ft Smith. What's going to keep people there?

I agree with what you are saying, for the most part...but Fort Smith has a lot of good things going for it too....it's not all bad, that's just all you hear about. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who do not like NWA and would rather live in Fort Smith. Not to mention the facts that it is more urban and has cheaper land prices...that will keep it going more than anything.

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Not trying to offend anyone by comparing Ft Smith and Pine Bluff but unfortunately there are some trends in Ft Smith that I think Pine Bluff went through a couple of decades ago. I'm not saying that Ft Smith will end up going the same route but I'd certainly say that Ft Smith better step up. Obviously Pine Bluff didn't willingly end up the way it is now. Ft Smith may get some benefits to being close to NWA but it also gets hurt from it. It will probably only get worse too. Just in the same way it's hard for Pine Bluff to develop much to interest people who live there. Most people have the attitude of rather going to Little Rock to shop or eat. As NWA gets more retail and restaurants it's possible that Ft Smith could end up in that situation too. Ft Smith does have the advantage of being bigger than Pine Bluff even during Pine Bluff's glory days. That will help somewhat, but I'd still say that I'd be pretty worried if I lived in Ft Smith. What's going to keep people there?

It's an interesting comparison. The jobs in LR have been slowly draining Pine Bluff of its college grads for years much as NWA is doing to Ft Smith. Ft Smith is in better position, I agree, but PB similarly really leans on its services sector and role providing medical care, retail, etc for Southeast AR. FS is growing some while PB is declining, though. Then again, Pine Bluff has become a center for state and federal gov't jobs that provide some stability FS is lacking.

One thing FS has going for it is its public schools. Northside's not in great shape but I think FS Southside may be the best top to bottom public school in the state.

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It's an interesting comparison. The jobs in LR have been slowly draining Pine Bluff of its college grads for years much as NWA is doing to Ft Smith. Ft Smith is in better position, I agree, but PB similarly really leans on its services sector and role providing medical care, retail, etc for Southeast AR. FS is growing some while PB is declining, though. Then again, Pine Bluff has become a center for state and federal gov't jobs that provide some stability FS is lacking.

One thing FS has going for it is its public schools. Northside's not in great shape but I think FS Southside may be the best top to bottom public school in the state.

I also think it's odd that both have some interesting histories and potential and both seem to not be doing much with it. Granted bringing in jobs is what most people are probably more worried about. But I think if you developed some of these historical aspects of both cities you could possibly be more able to lure potential jobs to the city. Some companies might be more willing to take a more serious look to either city if they considered it a nice place to live for their employees.

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I really don't think Ft. Smith is any more urban than NWA. Both are about the same.

I'm not that familiar with Ft Smith but I would imagine since it's an older city and has had a decent population (at least by Arkansas standards) it probably has a more dense urban downtown area.

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I'm not that familiar with Ft Smith but I would imagine since it's an older city and has had a decent population (at least by Arkansas standards) it probably has a more dense urban downtown area.

It certainly seems that way to me. Maybe not compared to Fayetteville alone but certainly compared to the rest of NWA which barely passes for suburban.

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It certainly seems that way to me. Maybe not compared to Fayetteville alone but certainly compared to the rest of NWA which barely passes for suburban.

Most of the cities in NWA just aren't that old for one thing. They also remained relatively small until recent times so they just never developed much of a downtown like bigger Arkansas cities like Ft Smith and Pine Bluff.

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From the Conway Log Cabin Democrat

http://www.thecabin.net

Hospital to remain in Fort Smith; expansion planned

FORT SMITH (AP) - The Sparks Regional Medical Center will remain near downtown Fort Smith and hospital officials have announced a $39.3 million expansion at the facility.

Sparks had announced that it would move the hospital to another location, but reconsidered.

"One point that is being made by the expansion is that we are investing in this location," hospital spokesman Greg Russell said. "We're here for the long term."

The expansion will have two-stories and 136,000-square-feet to increase the size of the emergency room from 23 beds to 35. It also will include an expanded medical imaging center, cardiac catheterization suite, cardiopulmonary medicine, a 24-bed intensive care unit and a centralized registration area.

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Commercial Activity in Fort Smith Continues

Construction activity in Fort Smith, as reflected in the value of building permits, was defined by commercial development in 2005.

The value of new commercial construction in Fort Smith between January and November totaled $38.53 million, up

177 percent from $13.90 million from January to November 2004.

In contrast, the value of residential building permits during the same period was $30.43 million, up 16.72 percent over

$26.07 million for the same 2004 period.

Retail Update for Fort Smith:

http://www.swtimes.com/articles/2006/01/03.../business08.txt

Edited by tim2462
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  • 2 weeks later...

Houses and stores mean nothing without jobs. In any case, it's not growing that much, not compared to other urban parts of the state.

I guess what I'm saying is our governor needs to hold some economic incentives out as a carrot to get some businesses to relocate there or carry some jobs there.

Ft Smith won't completely dry up and blow away. Ft Smith will continue to serve as the medical, legal, retail and banking center of Western AR and Eastern OK and serves a quarter million population or more in that capacity. However, it needs real non-service jobs for any kind of growth as these areas really aren't growing much, not enough to sustain significant job growth.

As a demographics geek, I sometimes pull projections for different cities just for the heck of it. Everything I have seen for the past two years indicate Fort Smith is either very stagnant or perhaps even shrinking a bit in population. The metro itself has a bit of momentum so I believe their MSA will show modest gains in the next census. I fully expect Fayetteville to pass Fort Smith in population by 2010.

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As a demographics geek, I sometimes pull projections for different cities just for the heck of it. Everything I have seen for the past two years indicate Fort Smith is either very stagnant or perhaps even shrinking a bit in population. The metro itself has a bit of momentum so I believe their MSA will show modest gains in the next census. I fully expect Fayetteville to pass Fort Smith in population by 2010.

I guess I'm a little surprised to hear it possibly happen that soon. I'm still waiting for the special census figures that will happen later this year. But sometimes it's hard to realize just how fast this area is growing sometimes.

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As you guys have mentioned, FS looks like its in a pretty desperate position. With the problems with Whirlpool and Beverly, a lot of jobs are going to be lost. FS is mostly a working class town; I have several friends here from FS who have parents that work in manafacturing plants. A lot of the Vietnamese, particularly, work in the manafacturing plants. The future of FS doesn't look very bright if they don't go on an upturn soon.

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