Fayetteville makes Forbes 2016 list of Best Places for Business and Careers

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Another day, another best of list for Fayetteville. This time, it’s ranked No. 24 on Forbes Magazine’s 2016 Best Places for Business and Careers.

According to a new article released Oct. 19, Forbes looked at the 200 largest metro areas by population in the U.S., and rated them based on 14 metrics related to job growth, costs (business and living), income growth, quality of life and the education of the labor force.

Fayetteville came in at No. 24, the top market in the state of Arkansas and the highest ranking city among SEC college towns on the list. Other Arkansas cities ranked included Little Rock at No. 84, and Fort Smith at No. 192.

According to statistics gathered by Forbes, the Fayetteville metro area has a median household income of $51,369, a median home price of $140,700, and a gross metro product of over $23 billion.

Unemployment is low at just 2.9%, job growth is ranked 11th in the nation at 5%, and cost of living is 8.2% below the national average.

The University of Arkansas, and proximity to Walmart, Tyson, and J.B. Hunt were likely factors in Fayetteville’s high ranking. The charm of the downtown area was also mentioned in Fayetteville’s profile.

“Some of Fayetteville’s highlights include the town square, where a farmer’s market is held seasonally, and Dickson Street, a narrow street lined with shops and restaurants that runs through the center of the city to the University of Arkansas,” the article states. “The Walton Arts Center is also located in this popular district and is a performing arts center that presents plays, concerts and other cultural events.”

For the first time this year, Forbes incorporated a new metric in their data as well, measuring the amount of “highly educated millennials” in each metro areas’ workforces.

“In addition to being an excellent source of trainable labor, highly educated millennials provide cities with the type of vibrancy and creativity that companies are increasingly looking for,” said Jeff Lessard, a consultant for Cushman & Wakefield who helps companies decide where to relocate.

Fayetteville’s newly enacted civil rights ordinance also likely helped in the rankings. According to the article, the study this year “also factored in laws that protect people from employment discrimination based on sexual and/or gender identity in light the controversies and corporate backlash regarding recent legislation in Arizona, Indiana and North Carolina.”

Denver, Colorado topped the list for the second straight year, followed by: Provo, Utah; Raleigh, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon.