Mountain Home Added to Economic Index
story by Thomas Garrettfirstname.lastname@example.org
Mountain Home is showing a strong economic performance, according to the Arkansas Tech Business Index. It's also the newest Arkansas city to be listed in the index.
January figures, the most recently listed on the ATBI, show Mountain Home with a rating of 100.36, making it one of the top nine cities in the state economically.
"We love you guys," said Dr. Marc Fusaro, associate professor of economics and overseer of the ABTI.
Generally, he said, the index focuses on larger Arkansas cities, but they picked Mountain Home for a variety of reasons. One is the fact it's the largest city in the north central Arkansas region and it is an economic hub for the area, according to Fusaro.
Another consideration was the tourism and retirement factors in the local economy, and the fact Mountain Home has so many banks, said Fusaro, including the area headquarters for Arvest Bank.
The ABTI measures the economic activity of 18 cities, encompassing labor, housing market, construction and retail sales data, according to the professor. Ratings above 100 indicate a city is doing better than the state average from 2009 to now. The index was developed as a student project under Fusaro's direction.
For the latest report, nine cities on the list rated about 100, including Fort Smith, which topped the list for January with a rating of 107.19. Other cities with a rating above 100 were Springdale (104.56), Fayetteville (103.82), Rogers (103.40), Hot Springs (101.56), Conway (101.42) and Van Buren (100.48).
Cities with ratings below Mountain Home included Russellville (99.87), Jonesboro (99.37), Searcy (98.90), Texarkana (97.48), North Little Rock (96.88), West Memphis (96.65), El Dorado (96.40), Little Rock (96.33) and Pine Bluff (95.32).
Fusaro said the index helps a city see how well its economy is doing. While this year is the first time Mountain Home has been included in the index, data has been collected on the city back to January 2009. Its index rating has topped 100 in 34 months since then, the highest 100.79 in October 2010.
Bo Gregory, director of economic development with the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with Mountain Home's addition to the index. He agrees with Fusaro that this is a "hub city" for north central Arkansas with a diverse economy of retail, tourism "and more manufacturing than I believe many of our residents even realize."
"When you look at the specific data points that make up our index score, you will see that for many of the individual factors we have always scored fairly high," said Gregory. "It is as we have come out of the recession that many other cities have not recovered as well and, as a result, we have recovered, risen in our ranking and, in some instances, gained ground from our past successful data point."
"I believe as we continue to gain jobs in manufacturing and increasing output, we will continue to see positive growth," he said.
Gregory said local tax revenues will "stay on track to continue record gains" as there are more start-ups by local, regional and national brands. He also said Mountain Home "will always be a tourist destination" and with the proposed new baseball complex it can even become an additional sports tournament destination.
"All of this adds up to a positive outlook for the future," he said.
To see the ABTI, go online to www.atu.edu/atbi/index.html.