Going Farther and Faster in a Growing Region
I recently had the honor of speaking at an event benefiting Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and I was reminded once again that there is no limit to how far our region can go when we work together to achieve a common goal.
In just two short years, the Northwest Arkansas community raised necessary capital, broke ground and began construction on the first children’s hospital in Northwest Arkansas so our young folks can get the finest medical care close to home. It’s another milestone in our region’s quality of life journey.
In just 10 years, we have emerged as one the best places to live and work. We have added nearly 100,000 new residents to our population, and our per capita personal income is now well above the national average. Our trails and greenways have catapulted us among the top cycling destinations. Attendance at our arts and cultural amenities, as well as a blossoming culinary scene, have surpassed expectations for what is possible in a growing region like ours.
This kind of rapid progress reflects Northwest Arkansas’ boldness, determination and collaboration across city limits and county lines. That night, listening to stories of brave kids and their determined families and medical teams, reinforced why my family and I are committed to giving back to the place that has given us incredible opportunity.
In looking back at his life, my grandfather, Sam Walton, once said that if he wanted to reach the goals he set for himself, he had to get at it and stay at it. He had to get up every day with his mind set on improving something.
With all that is going right and well here in Northwest Arkansas, we can seize this moment to build on our many strengths and turn our eyes to where we need to go next.
As citizens and business, community and political leaders alike, we, too, can get up every day with a mindset of “What can I improve? What can I make better?”
While we celebrate our region’s accomplishments, the greatest risk is that we become complacent about our progress.
The new hospital is a tremendous step forward, but Arkansas still ranks 45th in child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Our population is rapidly diversifying, but we can do much more to reflect that diversity in leadership positions across this region.
Steuart Walton speaks at the Color of Hope Gala benefiting Arkansas Children's Hospital.
It’s great that we ranked fifth in 2017 and third in 2016 in the US News and World Report’s “Best Places to Live” survey, but we still received low scores in desirability.
It’s clear the investments our leaders have made are yielding incredible returns. But our region must continue to invest wisely if we want to keep the momentum going.
Let’s keep executing bold ideas that plant a flag for Northwest Arkansas. Ideas like:
- exceptional access to urban parks and outdoor spaces;
- solving transportation needs with a 21st-century mindset and 21st-century technology; and
- ensuring downtown living is affordable and accessible to people of different backgrounds.
Imagine how much farther and faster we can go if all of us across the region—all 500,000 and counting—wake up every day committed to improving something.