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Northwest Arkansas’ Largest Employers Provide Stability and Growth Potential Stacy Ryburn | March 26, 2017 at 12:00 p.m
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NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Work continues Monday, March 13, 2017 Donald W. in the north end zone of Reynolds Razorback Stadium on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The renovations are part of a $160 million project that will completely wrap the 78-year-old stadium. The stadium will expand from 72,000 to approximately 76,000 by September 2018. The project will include new premium seating, including the Founders Club Suites on the east side of the stadium, an outdoor box office and four to eight seats. Separated from the rest by a partition and club seats. The new seats will connect the east and west aisles of the lobby.
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The region’s largest companies provide steady employment as their related businesses increasingly congregate in Northwest Arkansas, contributing to overall job growth over the past decade.
More than 9,000 people work at more than 1,600 retailers within a 20-mile radius of Wal-Mart’s home office, where another 18,000 people work. Tyson Foods rebranded and moved into a more sustainable food system, acquiring several subsidiaries. J.B. Hunt expects to add more than 1,000 jobs over the next five years as part of its corporate headquarters expansion.
The healthcare sector has also grown. Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale will open in early 2018. Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers expects to add 100 physicians over the next five to 10 years with about 1,000 associates to support them as part of a $247 million expansion. Northwestern Health System and Washington Regional Medical Center have grown with the population.
According to census data, the population of the region increased by more than 50,000 people in 2010-2015. Enrollment at the University of Arkansas increased by 10,000 students in 10 years. The university has hired 400 faculty and nearly 500 staff to accommodate the growth.
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All of this has forced leaders to resort to careful planning, focus on technical training, and keep an eye on the increasingly competitive e-commerce market as the new decade approaches.
The region has seen declines in certain job areas despite increases in many others, although some numbers can be misleading, said Mike Harvey, interim president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council.
About 10,000 people work in construction, down slightly from 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But since the recession hit in 2011, construction has picked up and the numbers are up, Harvey said.
“It hit the building, it took it on the chin,” he said. “We’re always insulated from what’s going on in the larger macro economy, but bubbles happen and people just get out of control.”
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The largest decline was recorded in the manufacturing industry. In 2006, more than 30,000 people worked in manufacturing, compared to about 25,000 today. Harvey said automation played a big role in that.
However, manufacturing still offers a good living wage, and the shift to automation is nothing new. Harvey said there is a silver lining.
“Everything that can be automated has problems. So a lot of the monotonous manual work that was done in the past basically comes down to the point of the commodity and goes away,” he said. “But what doesn’t go away is the fact that you have to troubleshoot if the machine breaks down and make sure it’s maintained. Those are pretty complex pieces of hardware to work on, so those are tasks that we’ve seen increase. “
Growth in professional and business services increased from 30,000 workers to 50,000 in 2006. Information technology, a big push for data analytics, and vendors serving the largest companies in the field fall into this category.
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All of Wal-Mart’s major suppliers or vendors are located here. Most of the online business is done in San Bruno, California, but customers are located in Bentonville. Some San Bruno businesses will move to our area, but not to the extent that it will create new job growth, said Cameron Smith of Cameron Smith and Associates.
The story of how e-commerce will ultimately affect Wal-Mart as it tries to compete with Amazon is still being written, Smith said.
In the 1990s, when Smith coined the term “Vendorville,” there were fewer than 100 vendors. More than 1,600 suppliers now have offices in the region, from Procter & Gamble to Disney.
In recent years, Smith’s company has had 30 to 40 small supplier startups a year, but many of those companies have merged and consolidated. Vendorville may be shrinking a bit, but third-party vendors, or “suppliers to vendors,” as Smith put it, came out strong, he said.
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“That’s the biggest growth area we see in terms of Vendorville,” he said. “They say in five years Northwest Arkansas could be the Silicon Valley of analytics.”
More than 7,500 doctors, nurses and staff work at the three major health care providers, according to data provided by officials from Washington Regional Medical Center, Northwest Health System and Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas.
The field shows no signs of slowing down. Washington Regional has expanded in all areas of health care, increasing the number of inpatient beds and the number of outpatient clinics the hospital operates, said Steve Percival, vice president of human resources.
Both of these strategies required more direct patient care staff such as nurses, assistants, pharmacists, laboratory and imaging technicians, plus support staff in technical service, biomedical, dietetics and business offices.
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“We believe Washington’s regional growth will continue steadily,” Percival said. “As we continue to receive demand for services, patients to serve and opportunities to serve Northwest Arkansas to help improve the health of people in our community, we will continue to grow and position the region as the best place for care.” place of care.”
According to CEO Sharif Omar, Northwest Health continues to grow clinical positions such as registered nurses and other professional and technical positions.
Omar said employees directly involved in patient care make up the majority of new hires at Northwest Health. Developments in professional standards and accrediting agencies have led hospitals to hire clinical staff with multiple certifications, he said.
“As Northwest Health continues to grow and expand to meet the needs of our community, it will be necessary to hire new staff in this area,” Omar said. In addition, we consider ourselves a key partner for local colleges and healthcare training providers.
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Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas will add a new tower and seven primary care and specialty clinics as part of its $247 million expansion. According to a Mercy spokeswoman, the hiring goal is to add 100 physicians and 1,000 associates in direct patient care, food services, environmental services and administration over the next decade.
Not only has the University of Arkansas seen impressive enrollment growth and more faculty and staff to support a growing student population, but the institution’s economic impact extends beyond the classroom walls, said Steve Voorhees, media relations.
Researchers at the Sam Walton College of Business’ Center for Business and Economic Research found that the university pumped $1.2 billion into the Arkansas economy in 2014. Most of that, about $932 million, went to Northwest Arkansas.
Evidence of the university’s impact on the economy and ultimately employment can be seen throughout the region. Over the past 10 years, dozens of construction projects have been built on and off campus to meet the needs of an additional 10,000 students. About a dozen projects are underway on campus, including the expansion of Razorback Stadium, Voorhees said.
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“In addition to the jobs that build these apartment complexes, the people who manage them, maintain them and otherwise work there, they all have jobs because of the University of Arkansas,” he said. “I think you can also count everyone who works in a restaurant or bar in Fayetteville. All of that plus the business the university does with our students, our research and our other resources.”
J.B. Hunt will add another 1,000 jobs in the state to coincide with the opening of the six-story, 133,000-square-foot tower this spring. That’s in addition to the more than 20,000 people employed by the Fortune 500 company across the United States and in the four- and five-story buildings of its Lowell business complex.
Transportation jobs in Northwest Arkansas grew from about 50,000 in 2006 to about 55,000 in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A Tyson spokesman said there are about 400 people