One of the fastest-growing regions in the U.S. is looking to attract young professionals – and paying handsomely. The Northwest Arkansas Council wants talented remote workers to live in the region, and are offering $10,000 to anyone who makes the move.
Arkansas may not be as glamorous as Dubai or Barbados, places offering similar programs for remote workers, but this gem of the midwest has plenty to offer anyone who decides to call it home. The region is rapidly growing and developing, and facing a talent shortage in STEAM jobs. Plus, it’s home to some of America’s greatest natural beauty.
If you’re looking for your next adventure, here’s why you should consider Northwest Arkansas.
Northwest Arkansas Council’s Talent Incentive
As mentioned above, Northwest Arkansas is looking to bring talented workers to the region to fill some shortages. Roughly 10,000 jobs are available in the region in the fields of science, tech, engineering, arts, and math (aka STEAM). As a result, the NWAR Council launched the Life Works Here Initiative.
The program is designed to market the region, and incentivize young workers to move there. In addition to providing information about the area, the initiative is also offering $10,000 in cash to those who relocate, plus the option of a free mountain bike or a one-year membership at a local cultural institution (Crystal Bridges, The Momentary, Amazeum, TheatreSquared, Walton Arts Center or Walmart AMP).
To be eligible for the program and incentives, you must:
- Be at least 24 years old
- Have at least two years of work experience
- Have a full-time job
- Reside outside of Arkansas, but be able to relocate within six months
- Be a U.S. citizen or have the authorization to work here
You can start your application and review all the requirements here. The application is pretty simple, and largely just confirms that you meet all the necessary regulations. In addition, you’re encouraged to write about why you want to move, and you can choose what month you think works best for you to relocate.
“We’re looking for all kinds of talent, but the most in-demand talent in our region are STEAM professionals and entrepreneurs,” according to the council. “We’ll assess the applicants’ skills in relation to our region’s needs, as well as what they can add to our community. We’re not looking for someone who can only do a good job at work. We’re looking for people who will add to the vibrancy of our community.”
All applications will be reviewed by the NWAR Council, and select applicants will be notified that they’ve been chosen for the incentive program.
What to Know About Northwest Arkansas
Admittedly, most people don’t think of Arkansas when planning out dream living spots. However, there is far more in Northwest Arkansas than you might have ever imagined. For starters, let’s talk about facts and geography.
The region is home to more than 540,000 residents and on the fringe of becoming one of the 100 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. Since 2010, the population in the region has surged by 21 percent, making it the 11th fastest-growing metro area in the country this decade.
The region contains four of Arkansas’ 10 largest cities: Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, and Rodgers. In terms of land area, Northwestern Arkansas covers more than 3,200 square miles – larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
Although the population density is relatively low for a major metro area, the vast region is far from desolate. Three Fortune 500 companies – Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt – all not only operate in the region but are also expanding their footprints in Northwest Arkansas.
Northwest Arkansas is located largely within the Ozark Mountains and borders Oklahoma and Missouri. As a result, the region has a blend of Midwestern and Southern culture, situated on the edges of both areas.
If you’re moving with your family, it’s worth noting that Northern Arkansas has made major investments in education in recent years. The region boasts a better-than-average 14:1 student to teacher ratio, and a well-above-average 90 percent high school graduation rate. Lastly, the region is home to one of each of the state’s largest community colleges, private universities, and state schools, so higher education options are abundant as well.
Why Northwest Arkansas?
If the Life Works Here program incentives aren’t enough to lure you to Arkansas, there’s plenty more about the region that can entice you. For starters, it’s inexpensive. The NWAR Council has a handy calculator online that shows you just how much further a dollar stretches in the region than in other areas. For instance, the Average Northwest Arkansas resident has about 10 percent more purchasing power than someone in Myrtle Beach, a similar size region.
Housing, in particular, is inexpensive compared to other metropolitan areas. The average home in the U.S. is sold for roughly $123 per square foot, according to Realtor.com. The NWAR Council reports that in the region houses often sell for less than $100 per square foot.
According to U.S. News, Fayetteville – the heart of Northwest Arkansas and home to the University of Arkansas – is the eighth-best city in the U.S. to live. Thanks to high marks in affordability (4th overall) and quality of life (23rd overall), Fayetteville has quickly become a hot destination.
“You’ll quickly come to realize, life works here. Employment is abundant, housing is affordable, commutes are short, and the region is filled with a sense of possibility, a place where you can have a real impact,” according to the initiative’s webpage.
Things to Do In Northwest Arkansas
If you’re not sold yet, maybe some of the attractions of the region will convince you. As mentioned above, the Council is offering mountain bikes as part of welcome packages. That’s because Northwest Arkansas is home to some of the best biking in the country. There are manmade parks for tricks and fun like The Railyard, as well as daunting trails for the experienced bikers at Kessler Mountain.
In addition to biking, there are great hiking trails and scenic tours you can embark on in the region. A number of rivers also cut through the area, creating ideal kayaking and canoeing environments. Any nature lovers are sure to feel at home in Northwest Arkansas. There is also plenty of culture in the region, along with museums and events to appeal to your inner intellectual.
Namely, the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art is the best-known gallery in the state, and home to some staples of American art, such as Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter. You can take a virtual tour of the museum online, but there’s nothing like the real thing.
There’s also the Walton Arts Center, a performing arts hall that, like Crystal Bridges, was funded by the Walton family. For an in-depth list of points of interest in Northwest Arkansas, check out this guide from the NWAR Council.
The Bottom Line
Northwest Arkansas is growing fast – at a rate of about 30 people per day – and wants you to be a part of it. The region offers low costs, a wide variety of activities, an expanding economy, and, of course, a $10,000 incentive to move there. Ultimately the Northwest Arkansas Council plans to spend $1 million on its talent initiative, so take advantage of the opportunity while it lasts.