Opinion: Northwest Arkansas Could Be the 'Next Austin'

The home of Walmart and the University of Arkansas could be poised to see growth as cities like Austin and Boise become less affordable.

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December 5, 2021, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


As Austin's population and housing costs continue to rise dramatically, Conor Sen argues that Northwest Arkansas, an eight-hour drive from the Texas capital, could be the next region to experience similar growth. According to Sen, "Northwest Arkansas has both idiosyncratic and macro factors that make it a logical heir to the role played by Austin for so long."

The area Sen is referencing includes four of the state's ten biggest cities: Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, and Rogers, and is home to the University of Arkansas and the headquarters of Walmart. Thanks in part to funding provided by Walmart's Walton family, downtown Bentonville is being transformed "into a walkable, amenity-filled campus" that features 37 miles of multi-use trails and a world-class art museum. To Sen, these are exactly the kind of amenities that millennials seeking out affordable living outside major cities will be drawn to.

With cities like Austin becoming more expensive, Sen believes that the spillover will drive people to seek new opportunities–and that Northwest Arkansas could be one of the first places to benefit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 in Bloomberg Opinion

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