Axios Northwest Arkansas

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Today's newsletter is 912 words, about a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: University of Arkansas bets on outdoor recreation

Illustration of a bike with quarters for wheels.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The University of Arkansas is establishing a business incubator focused on entrepreneurs in the outdoor recreation industry — and a national search is already underway for a director of the Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP).

  • The application process for startups will begin in the fall, and the first round of entrepreneurs will start the 12-week program in the spring semester.
  • Offices will be in UA's new Bentonville education and research hub — the Collaborative — which announced its first director yesterday.

Why it matters: Supporting the growth of startups will help build a hub of businesses in the industry, which accounted for $788 billion in consumer spending in 2019.

  • The university is also capitalizing on interest in outdoor activity, which soared during the pandemic.

Details: GORP will work with two cohorts each year to see them through the idea-to-launch stages of their companies. Each cohort will include three startups.

  • Both UA students and nonstudents are eligible to apply.
  • The program will include virtual workshops, consultations and pitch competitions.
  • Participants will be introduced to experienced entrepreneurs and professionals from the industry.

The intrigue: Sarah Goforth, executive director of UA's Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI), tells Axios the program will have an emphasis on products and services that can be scaled up rather than mom-and-pop retail (think: a new type of fly rod or golf clubs to improve your swing).

Flashback: Part of OEI, GORP and the Collaborative are funded by a $197.4 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, which announced the grant last year.

What to watch: GORP falls under the umbrella of UA's Greenhouse Incubator. Goforth hopes to pilot health care and software incubator programs in the near future.

  • Neither is fully funded yet.

🥜 Our thought bubble: Just about any outdoor enthusiast will recognize the acronym GORP for "good ol' raisins and peanuts" — a time-tested and standard trail snack. Coincidence?

  • We think not.

2. The COVID-19 surge is getting worse

Illustration of a coronavirus-shaped spotlight shining on a graph with three trend lines.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Local health professionals warned that the combination of Arkansas' low vaccination rate and the spread of the highly contagious delta variant would result in a third surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Reality check: It's happening. Hospitalizations and cases are increasing, with no signs of slowing down.

By the numbers: Hospitals in NWA had a combined total of 58 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday.

  • That's up from 36 a week ago, a 61% increase.

Zoom out: The state had 1,476 new cases and 41 new hospitalizations on Tuesday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

  • Earlier this month, new single-day cases ranged from the 200s to the 700s, but this is the fourth time in a week the state has reported at least 1,000 new single-day cases.

Zoom in: Benton County accounted for 182 of Tuesday's new cases, while Washington County accounted for 146, according to the health department.

The bottom line: Most of the people in the hospital are unvaccinated. Just under 40% of the state's population 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

3. The results are in

Illustration of a coffee mug covered in voter stickers

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Cave Springs will not be annexing land, but voters gave the green light to all other issues in Tuesday's small-town special election.

The results: Well, it wasn't close. 75% of voters did not want to annex about 2,800 acres west of Cave Springs into the city, which would have increased the city's size by 55%.

Cave Springs Mayor Randall Noblett said the annexation would allow the city to expand sewer services to the unincorporated area and improve police and fire protection for those residents.

  • Voters against the annexation would like to stay in an unincorporated area where they have fewer restrictions on things like hunting, according to KNWA.

What else:

  • About 74% of voters in Johnson approved a temporary additional 1% sales tax to cover a $7.3 million bond for street improvements.
  • Johnson's ask for a 1% tax on hotel, motel, prepared food and drink bills also got 74% of the vote. The money is for city parks.
  • Voters approved two volunteer fire departments — Boston Mountain and Sunset — collecting annual fees from residents. 70% of voters approved Boston Mountain, and 100% (32 people voted) approved Sunset.

4. The latest on Fulbright statue

The J. William Fulbright statue behind the Old Main building on the University of Arkansas campus. Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

University of Arkansas' provost, Charles Robinson, said "all the constituencies are being heard," regarding the controversial relocation of a statue of Sen. J. William Fulbright, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

  • A student asked Robinson about the decision process at a UA event Tuesday.

Why it matters: Many see Fulbright's segregationist legislation and his support of the "Southern Manifesto of 1956" as offensive and racist.

Flashback: Former University of Arkansas chancellor Joe Steinmetz recommended in May that the statue be moved from its location near the Old Main building on the university's Fayetteville campus.

  • But Steinmetz said the Fulbright College should keep its name.
  • Steinmetz has since resigned for unknown, but seemingly unrelated reasons.

Fast forward: UA System's president, Donald Bobbitt, is still collecting feedback, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, but hopes to make a decision before the end of summer.

  • Bobbitt will have to bring any recommendations to the University of Arkansas System board of trustees.

A new state law on public monuments also means the Arkansas History Commission would have to approve any relocation.

5. Pic du jour: A downtown sushi roll

Photo of sushi roll

The What's up roll has crab mix, fried shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, spicy tuna, tempura flakes, jalapeño, spicy mayo, sushi sauce and sriracha. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

🌶 My name is Alex, and I have a jalapeño problem. If you're in the same club, you might try Sushi 101 on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. The peppers top a few different sushi rolls, including this one, called What's up.

Not into spice? No worries. Sushi 101 may be small, but it has a big menu.

👷‍♀️ Alex is eyeing all the construction happening around The Momentary in Bentonville.

📺 Worth finally understands what all the fuss is about with this series. ⚽️