Jul 16, 2021 - Politics
5 key takeaways from NWA Council's annual meeting
Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to a crowd at the NWA Council's annual meeting.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to a crowd at the NWA Council's annual meeting. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

The Northwest Arkansas Council held its annual meeting Thursday to update its members as well as the NWA community on regional progress.

Why it matters: The council is a private, nonprofit organization working to advance job opportunities, recruitment, infrastructure, health care and quality of life in NWA.

Catch up: Common with most meetings like this, a lot is covered in broad strokes in a short time. We'll hit the highlights here and cover some of the newsier pieces later.

  1. Noting the state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he continues to address misinformation and hesitancy by touring several communities. He also stressed the importance of government spending to build the state's broadband infrastructure.
  2. The council's Mike Harvey said demand for workers in NWA is "insatiable," with more than 10,000 job openings right now. The council has various programs working to develop, attract and retain talent.
  3. Jeff Webster of Excellerate Foundation announced the formation of Upskill NWA, an organization focused on expanding the workforce for high-demand industries in order to provide a path to higher-wage jobs for residents. The group will focus on the health care industry first.
  4. The council's communications director revealed that a new national advertising campaign will launch this fall to attract talent to NWA. The campaign will use the Life Works Here branding from earlier this year, and include a cash incentive program to relocate to the area.
  5. John Randal Tyson, chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods and council board member, provided an overview of the company's sustainability efforts, including its recent goal for zero emissions by 2050.

What to watch: Upskill NWA could be an important driver for the regional economy.

  • We'll be looking into it.
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