Axios Northwest Arkansas

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Welcome to April! Hope your weekend was great.

β›ˆ Watch for severe thunderstorms this evening.

Today's newsletter is 814 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: NWA is an innovation hotspot

Change in utility patents granted per capita
Data: National Science Foundation; Note: Patents identified by location of inventors; Excludes metros with fewer than 50 patents in 2022; A bigger bubble indicates greater change; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Northwest Arkansas is emerging as one of America's new innovation hot spots, measured by the change in utility patents granted over time per 100,000 residents.

Why it matters: Silicon Valley still holds the title for most patents awarded overall; however, the rate of change over time offers a compelling look at newly ascending areas, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • Utility patents can be granted for inventing or discovering a new and useful process, machine or composition of matter, among other things.

By the numbers: The NWA metro had 24.9 patents granted for every 100,000 residents in 2022, up from 10.2 in 2012 β€” a 144.1% increase, per U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data.

  • Nationally, 42.5 patents were granted for every 100,000 residents in 2022, up from 38.4 in 2012 (+11%).
  • Louisville, Kentucky β€” along with New Orleans β€” also are emerging as patent-savvy markets.

Zoom in: Northwest Arkansas' patent boom comes alongside broader growth for the region, which is home to Walmart headquarters.

The big picture: "U.S. patenting and trademark activities are concentrated in certain areas of the country, with the highest rates on the East Coast and West Coast, around the Great Lakes, and in parts of the Southwest," per a February report from the National Science Foundation.

Caveat: Getting a patent is one thing; actually creating the proposed product or service is another.

  • That said, the number of patents granted is still a useful proxy for measuring something as quantitatively slippery as "innovation."

What's next: Expect other potentially surprising innovation hubs to emerge over the next few years, as money from laws like the CHIPS Act and private investment funds new semiconductor plants and other high-tech projects nationwide.

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2. Monday Munchies: Toasted Yolk takes on breakfast boom

Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

πŸ‘‹ Worth here. A friend suggested Springdale's Toasted Yolk Cafe. I'm game for a good breakfast and always down to shine some light on Springdale.

The latest: It's NWA's newest spot that leans into the breakfast and brunch arena that Axios' Jennifer Kingson reports may dominate 2024's food trend.

Fun fact: Don't confuse the restaurant with Fayetteville's Cheba Hut that offers "toasted" subs, a blunt euphemism for its marijuana-inspired food.

The setup: The decor is bright, clean and cheery; the menu is packed with breakfast and lunch fare; and boozy drinks from its bar if you need more than a meal.

  • It's a chain with 17 open locations and 18 more in its pipeline, so there's a cookie-cutter feel. That can be a comfort to some and a turnoff for others.
A bowl of shrimp and grits.
Photo: Ronie Sparkman

🍽️ Dig in: I landed on a combo that allowed for two eggs, meat, hashbrown casserole and a slice of sourdough French toast ($14), and a cup of coffee.

  • My date went for the shrimp and grits ($17).

The verdict: The coffee was great. The food was perfectly good and filling but not special enough to make it a destination.

  • The shrimp and grits were better than many places, my companion said, but their overall summary was: "Beats Village Inn."

πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ The intrigue: No coffee refill was ever offered and there was no butter with the French toast β€” a major and minor miss, respectively, IMO.

Check it out: 5653 Gateway Ave. Open 7am-3pm daily.

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3. Kitchen Sink: Basin of information

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ—‘ A state commission approved a request for the Eco-Vista landfill to expand into Tontitown over the city's objections. (5 News)

🚍 NWA's first nonstop intercity bus route between Rogers and Bentonville starts today. (Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

🚨 A Centerton man was arrested on suspicion of killing his mother Friday. (40/29)

4. Your week ahead

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Here's your guide to getting out during the first week of April.

β˜€οΈ Eclipse Food Festival β€” Throw on some eclipse glasses and enjoy food from local vendors at 4:30pm Thursday at Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville.Β Get tickets for $15.

😎 First Friday Bentonville β€” This free, family-friendly event with live music and vendors returns for the season Friday at the Bentonville downtown square. Hours are 3-9pm.

⚾️ Arkansas Razorbacks game β€” The baseball team goes up against Arkansas State University at 6pm tomorrow at Baum-Walker Stadium. Get tickets for $20-$35.

5. Eclipse prep: Read local fiction

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

If you're looking to get into the mood for April 8, maybe read Eli Cranor's short story in the Arkansas Times (page 60).

  • "'The Gloam' β€” Cranor's engrossing new story about a bound-for-breakup couple hawking bootleg MAGA wares in London, Arkansas, during the town's eclipse festivities β€” debuts in our April issue," Times' Daniel Grear writes as part of a Q&A with Cranor (also worth a read).

Between the lines: Cranor is a novelist who lives on Lake Dardanelle.

His two books β€” "Don't Know Tough" and "Ozark Dogs" β€” were named Best Crime Novels of the Year by the New York Times.

The bottom line: If you don't get to read the story this week, keep it in mind as a respite while you're stuck in interstate traffic after the 4-minute event next Monday.

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Thanks to Fadel Allassan for editing and James Gilzow for copy editing this newsletter.

🍫 Alex loves ALDI chocolate and got some for Easter.

😹 Worth is watching funny cat videos and reading some history.