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Business & Economic Development

In the Greater Fort Smith Region, you’ll find a unity of purpose – a unity of community. We share a drive to build something unique and special for ourselves, our families and our businesses.

With world-class natural amenities surrounding us and a historical legacy of tenacity and determination, we understand the future of our region is about realizing and capitalizing on that vast potential.

The Greater Fort Smith Region’s scenic beauty is a hallmark of our quality of life, but it is certainly not our only outstanding asset. Fort Smith is also noted for the strong work ethic of its citizens, the clean and progressive industry that drives the economy, a burgeoning tourism trade, a thriving business and retail base, and a strong agricultural and manufacturing tradition.

Our energy, water and available land combined with a lower cost of living keeps the Greater Fort Smith Region at one of the best Cost of Doing Business (CDB) ratios in the nation. In fact, Forbes magazine recently ranked Fort Smith as the number six city in America for cost of doing business based on cost of labor, energy, taxes and office space. And, of course, business leaders also praise the region’s transportation assets, communication facilities, mild climate, high quality of life, recreational opportunities and its natural scenic beauty.

The Greater Fort Smith Region has an economy blessed with a stable and diverse industrial base. The location of such a progressive industry in the area is no accident. Economic development doesn’t just happen. In Fort Smith, you will find a continually improving, vital economy that is diverse in its make up and regionally inclusive in its approach.

Developing business infrastructure has been a priority in our region for more than a decade. It has helped bring both current and prospective business and manufacturing opportunities into our area. It is a long-term solution that secures an uninterrupted supply chain and manufacturing support.

Business and industry are drawn to the area by our strong pro-business climate, nationally recognized schools, outstanding medical facilities, one of the lowest costs of living indexes, and a labor force that ranks as one of the best in the nation with regard to productivity and ethical standards.

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As one of the largest and most diversified business communities in Arkansas, the Greater Fort Smith Region draws its work force from more than six counties in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The region boasts a labor force comprised of skilled, productive individuals with more than 80 percent of the work force having an education level of high school or higher and more than 20 percent having a bachelor’s degree or higher. The Greater Fort Smith Region is known for its outstanding work ethic and labor force, which has helped Fort Smith alone see the creation of nearly 4,000 jobs in the past four years.

Because Fort Smith is the economic center of the six-county area known as the Greater Fort Smith Region, our businesses are able to take advantage of a larger market of consumers as well as the number of qualified workers available for employment. The Fort Smith regional community provides a talent pool of more than 300,000 who live, work and play while continuing to develop world-class products and innovations.

Our economy is also built on a diverse base of employers that complement business efforts in the Greater Fort Smith Region. The top three occupational areas by number of jobs in the region are management, professional and related; production, transportation and material moving; and sales and office.

In 2005, the Chamber commissioned a study that resulted in the TIP plan – an economic development and marketing strategy for the entire Greater Fort Smith Region. The TIP plan focuses on three main strategies: industry and innovation, quality of place, and talent.

Through a partnership between the Chamber, the City of Fort Smith and the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, many strategies from the TIP plan have become realities, including the creation of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) in downtown Fort Smith. The IEC provides support for local entrepreneurs and was designed to help develop and grow businesses by

creating an environment where entrepreneurs can flourish and have a go-to source of information. The IEC has since helped hundreds of businesses with everything from start-up to expansion.

Our sense of community combined with a strong work ethic help our region deliver the goods. The Greater Fort Smith Region is all about people, place and progress. Explore what our region has to offer, and surround your business with greater opportunity.

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