Cities see proof that economies are bouncing back post-pandemic

Cities across our area are seeing increased sales tax revenue and interest from companies who want to open up in Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley’s economies are bouncing back as more people start to return to life pre-pandemic. 

The City of Fort Smith says thanks to their diverse economic background with a large amount of manufacturing, they didn’t take as much of a hit as other cities across the county. City Administrator Carl Geffken says many of those plants had an increased need for their products.

“Proof of that is in our sales tax collections which were up by 15% last year, and they are continuing to be up this year,” he said.  

In Bentonville, 2020 was actually one of their biggest years for development, with 365 new construction and commercial development projects. Planning Services Manager Tyler Overstreet says the city also helped small businesses add more outdoor dining. He says events like last week’s First Friday are getting more people out in the city.  

“The Momentary has reopened, obviously Crystal Bridges, so hopefully we see a renewed increase in tourism, and we are starting to move out of the pandemic and allowing those public events again, which makes Bentonville a unique and vibrant place to live,” he said. 

In Fayetteville, the Chamber of Commerce says a big indicator our economy is bouncing back is lower unemployment numbers that decrease every month. Chief Economic Development Officer Zane Chenault says the accommodation and hospitality industry suffered almost a $70 million loss in revenue. However, he says they have turned a corner but still have a long way to go. He also says they’ve seen an increased interest from companies wanting to expand to Fayetteville in the last few months.  

“That interest has ticked up over the last couple of months where it was obviously very flat last year because of the pandemic but even compared to 2019, I’ve responded to more outside inquires in the last three months compared to most of 2019,” he said. 

In Northwest Arkansas, the housing market is booming, and it’s a sellers’ market. They say there aren’t enough homes right now to keep up with the current demand.

Read the full story on the Channel 5 News website here.