Local Industry &
Northwest Arkansas is significant contributor on a global scale in variety of disciplines.
Northwest Arkansas is a global center of excellence in retail, food, and logistics. We are home to the headquarters of three fortune 500 companies Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt Transport. Additionally, Simmons Foods, America’s Car Mart, PAM Transport, 1,450 corporate subsidiary offices, and internationally recognized consumer brands call NWA home. NWA has a world-class infrastructure of professional as well as technical services to support the flagship industries. This has created an impressive ecosystem of thought leaders unlike you will find anywhere else.
World Trade Center
The World Trade Center Arkansas was launched in 2007 as a collaborative effort with Senator John Boozman, the University of Arkansas, Hunt Ventures, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, City of Rogers, and the Arkansas Governor’s Office. They offer world class services, global connections, and trade development programs.
International trade is vital to the Arkansas economy with over 350,000 jobs supported by trade and $33.3 billion exported by the state since 2012. The World Trade Center Arkansas along with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission has experts that provide support to all of Arkansas’s top industries.
University of Arkansas
When meeting in Rogers planners have access to a wide variety of experts located at the University of Arkansas.
Just south of Rogers in Fayetteville is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas. Founded in 1871, the Fayetteville campus now has more than 30,000 students enrolled. As a land-grant university the focus was initially agriculture, science, and engineering. Now the University of Arkansas offers more than 200 programs of study.
With diverse expertise, the University of Arkansas offers event planners a bevy of potential speakers. You can request to be connected with a expert subject matter expert in your organization’s field through the university’s website.
Tyson Foods, Inc.
From its humble roots in Northwest Arkansas Tyson has become an industry leader.
In the 1930s, John W. Tyson moved his family to Northwest Arkansas in the midst of the great depression in search of better opportunities. He got into the poultry business delivering chickens to larger markets in the Midwest. At the time, poultry consumption was four times lower than that of beef or pork. Chickens were largely kept for their eggs.
In the spring of 1942, the U.S. government instituted the national Food Rationing Program in order to better support the war effort. During the war, most of the red meat ended up being used by the military. Poultry was an unrationed item and butchers began to keep more in stock. The demand soon began to rise rapidly, and John Tyson responded by beginning to raise chicks along with grinding feed for other chicken farmers.
After the war, the business continued to boom as the company began to vertically integrate, which drastically reduced costs. This led to increased profitability, allowing the company to grow enough to be taken public in 1962 as Tyson Foods, Inc. After the tragic deaths of John and his wife Helen in a train accident their son Don took over as CEO in 1967. Through continued innovation, and Don instilling a core tenant to always take care of the employees, the company experienced incredible growth over the next four decades.
Today’s Tyson Foods is a modern, multi-national, protein-focused food company with more than 122,000 employees. They produce 1 in 5 pounds of all chicken, beef, and pork in the U.S., making them the market leaders. They are behind some of the most recognized brands on grocery store shelves today. The portfolio of leading brands includes Tyson®, Jimmy Dean®, Hillshire Farm®, Ball Park®, Wright Brand®, Golden Island®, Aidells®, and State Fair®.
Tyson Foods is also the leading protein provider to many national restaurant chains, including quick service, casual, mid-scale, and fine dining restaurants. They make food for a variety of foodservice customers, including schools, military bases, hospitals, nursing homes, and international customers as well. They are also the only company that sells chicken, beef, pork, and prepared foods products through all major retail distribution channels, including club stores, grocery stores, and discount stores. In 2020 Tyson had notched $43.2 billion in revenue.
At their headquarters in the neighboring city of Springdale is the Tyson Discovery Center. This is where more than 170 research and development members bring new products to life in 19 state-of-the-art test kitchens, a 39,000-square-foot pilot plant, a sensory lab and focus group space, and a packaging innovation lab.
J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.
A spirit of innovation lays foundation for one of the largest trucking transportation logistics companies in North America.
At the tail end of the Great Depression in 1939, a young boy dropped out of the seventh grade to work in his uncle’s saw mill in Central Arkansas to make $1.50 a day. During his time at the saw mill, he saw farmers come and go from the mill while shoveling the shavings in their trucks to use as poultry-house litter at no cost to them. He got his uncle’s carpenter to construct a raised house and used the blower vents to shoot the shavings into it for storage. At $4 per load the farmers could now pull their trucks underneath the storage house to be filled. He went from making $1.50 to $16 per day. From his first job, J.B. Hunt was creative and innovative.
It was this type of innovation that led J.B. Hunt Transportation to become one of North America’s largest transportation companies with billions in annual revenue. The company is paving the way to future growth through innovation using the latest in machine-learning to provide their customers real-time alerts and predictive delivery estimates. The company has had billions in capital expenditures into a variety of areas as well as disruptive supply chain tech, including exploring blockchain, positioning them to continue growth well into the future.
Not only has the Hunt family’s business changed Northwest Arkansas, but their incredible generosity in giving back to their community has had a profound impact. Hunt Ventures, a private investment company, has had a tremendous effect on the economic development of Rogers. The 1,200,000-square-foot Pinnacle Hills Promenade outdoor shopping center was a partnership of Hunt Ventures and a Chicago group in 2005. The area now has over 100 retail shops and 15 restuarants, which has led to further growth in the west end of Rogers. Hunt Ventures also donated the land for the Walmart Amphitheater. They have constructed multiple office towers, Pinnacle Heights (a $150 million mixed use development), and many other projects fueling the growth of Rogers. J.B.’s wife, Johnelle, was instrumental in the success of the transportation business and continues the Hunt family tradition of giving back to the community. J.B. Hunt sadly passed in 2006, but his legacy lives on through his family, company, and the impact he has had on his community.
The world’s largest retailer is headquartered in Northwest Arkansas. Sam Walton opened his first Walmart store in Rogers in 1962. The city’s population at the time was approximately 5,700.
Walton’s humble beginnings quickly morphed into an enormous success story. Within 20 years of opening, the store formerly known as Walton’s 5&10, reached $1 billion in annual sales faster than any other company at the time. By 1993, Walmart was generating $1 billion in sales per week. Today, with 2.3 million employees, Walmart is the 3rd largest employer worldwide. With annual sales well over $550 billion and 240 million weekly customers in the U.S., Walmart has 30% the revenue of online retail powerhouse Amazon.
Walmart has been a huge influence in the development of Northwest Arkansas. Over 30 years ago Walmart and Proctor & Gamble changed how retailers interacted with their suppliers. Up to that point, the extent of the interaction was supplier sales reps working with retail buyers. A new model called for collaboration across multiple departments leading to more than 1,450 customer teams in Northwest Arkansas. This model not only created value for Walmart, their suppliers, and the customer but fueled massive growth in the region. The Walton Family Foundation has also been instrumental in Northwest Arkansas with its initiatives to create world-class Pre-K-12 options, coordinating regional economic development, access to the arts, cultural amenities, and development of trails and green space. The population of Rogers alone has increased by more than 55,000, quite a contrast from the quiet town where Walton decided to establish his first store.
With a drive down virtually any highway in the U.S., Walmart’s success is evident as you pass by location after location. What you may not know is the incredible generosity of the company in so many different ways. In 2005 nearly 2,500 truckloads of supplies were taken to Hurricane Katrina victims, they committed $2 billion to combat hunger in the US in 2010, committed to hiring 250,000, funding for 762,000 women to participate in the women in factories program, $100 million to a Center for Racial Equity, and countless other initiatives. Visit the Walmart Foundation page to learn more about all of their initiatives.