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thewizard16

"When will the Boom Resume?"

Will the boom continue?   10 members have voted

  1. 1. How much population growth do you think NWA will see in the next 10 years?

    • 0-10%
      2
    • 10-20%
      6
    • 20-30%
      2
    • 30-40%
      0
    • Greater than 40%
      0
  2. 2. Do you think the growth will be less, or greater, than it would have been had the recession not hit in 2008-2010?

    • The recession hurt the momentum of the increase, the growth will be less.
      8
    • The recession let the area "catch up", the growth will be greater.
      2

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6 posts in this topic

Okay, so the following question was posed on the City-data forum today:

"When will the Boom Resume?

Does anybody miss all the construction, new people, new stores, and restaurants, etc. in NW Arkansas?

I realize the economy is stronger in NW Arkansas than much of the US, but I'm ready for more uncontrolled growth."

I think it's an interesting question, so I've posed a little poll above for what you all think the next decade might hold for NWA. If the Census projections for 2009 were accurate, we can use the following numbers to provide context:

"The total MSA population in 2000 was 347,045 people. The US Census estimated the population of the MSA to be 464,623 in 2009."

That's an increase of 117,578 people in the last decade, or a 33.8% growth since 2000. What do you think we'll see in the next ten years?

Here are my musings that I offered on city-data:

In a way, the recession hit at a perfect time for NWA (and Little Rock, in a way). Things were exploding. Growth was sprawling out in all directions and some of the cities weren't sticking to their guns on ordinances to make sure new development would blend and wasn't just cheap, infrastructure taxing sprawl. Roads weren't ready to handle the new developments built out on them. Schools weren't built to handle the extra kids. Wal-Mart and vendors were becoming viewed as a never ending source of job growth and prosperity for at least the most northern cities of the metro. Simply put, we were reacting to growth and only putting what time we had left into planning for future growth.

Fayetteville was a little more ahead of the curve than some because they got City Plan 2025 rolling during the boom, but I think the only reason they had time to do that is because their approval processes take so much longer than the rest of the cities in the area that the pace wasn't quite as rapid for new developments.

Now that we've had a lull, the cities have had time to collect their thoughts and develop some stronger long-term plans. Fayetteville continues to tweak City-Plan and improve infrastructure while planning for ways to promote infill and control sprawl. Rogers and Bentonville have been able to catch up (for the most part) with road improvement projects and help ease the overloaded infrastructure their sprawlish boom created. Bentonville has started putting more focus into their downtown and infill thanks to the upcoming Crystal Bridges museum and associated developments. Springdale has developed a strong looking plan for the area around the Arvest Ballpark and is working on ways to promote development towards their goals. Land has been acquired for the Bella Vista bypass while funding is being sought more seriously. 412 and US 71 N have seen substantial improvements. New schools have been built. Existing schools are being renovated and expanded. Walmart's corporate strategy shifts and mediocre performance (compared to what was expected) in the recession helped more city leaders they need to encourage more diverse economic growth. We've finally started shifting out of the reactionary pattern and into a more long-term focused planning system.

There's no reason to believe NWA won't continue to grow, but now I think we stand a better chance at being able to grow sensibly instead of leaking out in all directions with no plan for how it should all fit together. We've been given a little time to "reset", so to speak, and begin preparing for the next decade of growth. With rankings and studies recognizing Arkansas, and more specifically NWA and Central Arkansas, as some of the most recession proof economies and best places to live, we know it's likely we'll continue to see a decent amount of growth.... now we just have a stronger foundation to stack it onto. (In my opinion, of course.)

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I know a lot of people have wondered about this. I do think NWA will eventually begin growing again. But as pointed out I don't think we're going to see the big boom we did before. Walmart has changed it's strategy and I think that in large part will help curtail a lot of future growth. A lot of the NWA big businesses have matured and I don't know if we'll see any of them undergo rapid growth in the near future. Not unless we end up with another company that pops up and manages to do really well. But this will be a good time for the area to try to readjust to the past growth and try to get infrastructure to catch up. Overall the area still tends to rank well in general. So little things like that will continue to attract people. Other aspects like Crystal Bridges I think will also help get the word out. I think one big thing that could hurt is if we don't use this time to get infrastructure back up to where it probably should. The current economy certainly won't help that. We also might have to see how well our area works with the rest of the state. I don't think all parts of the state look at us favorably and might be hesitant to allow a lot of funding to this part of the state. Or just feel that we're doing well enough for ourselves. Send funding elsewhere in the state.

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Population growth is a result of job growth and there just isn't a clear driver for a massive number of new jobs in the area. There will be growth but I imagine most of it will be the lower wage service jobs that will improve the unemployment rate but not attract people from other parts of the country. A major part of the population boom of the past was in construction workers and many of those have left the area and aren't likely to return.

Except for transportation issues the area is ready for more growth- area towns have made large investments in infrastructure such as waste water improvements and municipal water supplies. There is still a huge number of approved building lots and many are in subdivisions that are ready to build in. Cities have annexed large amounts of land in order to enforce their building regulations on it when it is developed. As the economy improves it will be easier to get financing. The only other thing lacking will be employment opportunity and it is possible some large company will see the attractiveness of the area and move in, thus sparking another growth spurt.

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I agree with zman's assessment.. Until we see positive job growth in the area population growth will continue to stagnate. And commercial/residential development will stagnate as well. That being said, I'm cautiously optimistic about 2011. Both JB Hunt and Tyson have had very solid sales and profits, and Wal*Mart is working hard to right their ship. All of us in the vendor community were elated back in June when Wal*Mart announced that they were "rolling back the clock to 2006" -- which means they're increasing the SKU selection in their stores. More SKUs translates into more work for vendors, and eventually (hopefully), more jobs here in NWA. What's more, the word on the street is that Wal*Mart will move the apparel division back to NWA from New York at the beginning of their fiscal year in February. When they announced the move to NYC a couple of years ago they laid of 600 people at their corporate HQ... obviously a major disruption for the NWA economy. Of course, this is primarily rumor -- but it's a rumor that's being echoed from lots of different sources.

I may be counting chickens before they hatch, but if we get a couple of breaks we could be looking at a fairly significant upswing in the next couple of years. I guess only time will tell.

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I agree with zman's assessment.. Until we see positive job growth in the area population growth will continue to stagnate. And commercial/residential development will stagnate as well. That being said, I'm cautiously optimistic about 2011. Both JB Hunt and Tyson have had very solid sales and profits, and Wal*Mart is working hard to right their ship. All of us in the vendor community were elated back in June when Wal*Mart announced that they were "rolling back the clock to 2006" -- which means they're increasing the SKU selection in their stores. More SKUs translates into more work for vendors, and eventually (hopefully), more jobs here in NWA. What's more, the word on the street is that Wal*Mart will move the apparel division back to NWA from New York at the beginning of their fiscal year in February. When they announced the move to NYC a couple of years ago they laid of 600 people at their corporate HQ... obviously a major disruption for the NWA economy. Of course, this is primarily rumor -- but it's a rumor that's being echoed from lots of different sources.

I may be counting chickens before they hatch, but if we get a couple of breaks we could be looking at a fairly significant upswing in the next couple of years. I guess only time will tell.

Thanks for the updates on Walmart. I hadn't heard any of that.

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I had heard about increasing SKU numbers- Walmart was surprised at the customer outcry and response to their "simplifying" of their stores and selection. People wanted the variety and options Walmart provided, and when they cut that down, their dollars went elsewhere and same-store sales fell flat or decreased. It is certainly good news for the vendors that they're increasing product selection again.

I had not heard about the apparel division possibly moving back. If they do end up moving it back to NWA I wonder what their reasons will be for such a short-lived experiment in NYC. Certainly it is cheaper to do business in NWA than NYC, but the whole thinking there was proximity to designers, etc. or so they claimed. I also wonder if that means they're rethinking their attempts to regionalize the Walmart corporate management structure as previously announced. I think the chain's relatively lackluster performance in the recession compared to their stronger competitors may have them taking a more value-oriented look at their plans for future management and growth and it'll be interesting to see what happens with them in the next few years.

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