By Region 8 Newsdesk | May 13, 2019 at 10:05 PM CDT
JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) -As new businesses continue to pop up around Jonesboro, so does the discussion about the quality of life. You hear it around town and in municipal meetings. It’s a tale of two towns, Fayetteville and Jonesboro.
“I see a lot of the similarities between Northwest and Northeast Arkansas,” Clinton Bennett, Vice President of CBRE in Fayetteville, said. Both have growing industry, leaders in the medical field, thriving universities, and members in each community invested financially and emotionally in growing their cities. “I’ve worked in the commercial real estate and development business since about 2004,” Bennett said. “We’ve done around 100 projects around the city in the last ten years,” Joshua Brown, Co-Founder of Haag Brown Commercial, said.
Bennett has a hand in developing behind the scenes. “It’s really just kind of across the board there has been growth,” Bennett said. And, he gets to reap the benefits with his family.
“We spend a lot of time on the trails,” Bennett said. “We have festivals that go on downtown, also athletic events.” A nearly identical story for Brown, living and working in Jonesboro for 13 years. “There’s just been construction everywhere,” Brown said. “There’s been more than anywhere we do business in for a comparable size city.” With only a 10,000-person difference, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, both cities have been steadily increasing in population over the last five years.
Industries like Hytrol and Post Foods drive the workforce to Northeast Arkansas, while Walmart and Tyson Foods provide just a fraction of the manufacturing, distribution and sales jobs in the northwest. The growing campuses of St. Bernards and NEA Baptist continue to introduce new technology to patients in the region, while programs like the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences train and funnel medical professionals to top facilities like Washington Regional Medical Center.
Recruiting younger generations to each region falls heavily on the universities, Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas. Retaining those people is a group effort. “You have to be looked at and viewed as a place where people would like to live,” Bennett said. “That’s not just jobs and healthcare and education, there’s also a really important quality of life component there.” It’s something both cities’ leaders have worked to focus on, but many say Fayetteville seems to have the upper hand as far as the quality of life. With so many similarities between the two, a lot of people are concerned with the gap considering the quality of life.
Tuesday night at 10 p.m., the second part of the Region 8 News series will dig into what Brown considers major reasons for that disconnect.