Written by Arkansas Real Estate
Over the holidays, we had a chance to catch-up with Steve Cox, Director of Economic Development with the Rogers/Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. In our "chat" with him, we learned many exciting things that have been happening within Rogers and Lowell in 2011, and what is expected now that we are rolling into 2012.
Thank you, Steve, for taking time to kibitz with us!
What trends have you seen in 2011 in terms of business growth, job creation, and development in Rogers?
One of the best things to happen for Rogers in 2011 was the passing of the $135 million bond issue with an 80% approval. This will allow for improved infrastructure by improving existing roads, building new roads, and the construction of a new sports complex on Hudson Road and a water park on 26th St. There will also be renovations to Lake Atalanta and the purchase of land for a future park in Southwest Rogers. By improving the quality of life for our residents the city of Rogers will continue to be on the shortlist for companies seeking to open businesses in our area.
Developments like The Pinnacle Hills Promenade, Scottsdale Center, Pinnacle Hills, and Pleasant Crossing all opening in the past few years and having continued growth in 2011 have helped cement Rogers’ place as the retail destination for Northwest Arkansas. In 2011 Rogers has seen over 400,000 SF of retail space become sold, leased, or built throughout town. Restaurant growth has been tremendous with 25 restaurants opening in 2011 with at least 4 more set to open in the first quarter of 2012.
The announcement of Cabela’s coming to Rogers to open a 100,000 SF store at The Pinnacle Hills Promenade has spurred development for that area as new business are lining up to build and lease space in the Pinnacle Hills area.
The retail sector isn’t the only thing that is doing well in Rogers. Our major employers and manufacturing sector are thriving as well. This year alone we have had the Clorox/Glad plant invest over $34 million to modernize their facility in the same year they celebrated 40 years of operation in Rogers. This level of investment shows a continued commitment to Rogers and no signs of shutting down operations anytime soon. The Sister of Mercy Health System recently announced an expansion that will result in a $90 million investment over the next 7 years. This will create improved medical services for the residents of Rogers and Northwest Arkansas as well as community clinics in Bella Vista and Downtown Rogers. There are two other companies seeking to invest over $70 million into the community and create over 100 jobs by expanding operations, but we are not able to say who at this time.
Commercial office space is starting to become a rare commodity in Rogers. Pinnacle Hills has leased out over 117,000 SF of office space to a total of 25 companies this year. The Pinnacle Hills Promenade has also had great success by leasing over 30,000 SF of office space to five different companies just this year. There isn’t much space left in The Promenade coming off a successful year in 2010 as well.
Another trend has been the re-emergence of Downtown Rogers in 2011. Over 20 new businesses have opened in downtown in 2011 and the historic district is at 94% occupancy.
What growth do you expect to experience for 2012 and beyond?
I expect to see Rogers continue to grow in all sectors of business. As I already mentioned we are the retail destination for Northwest Arkansas and that shows no signs of changing anytime soon. The ongoing development of the major shopping areas in town will look to improve as the national economy improves and the impact of existing development like Cabela’s and The Pinnacle Hills Promenade will continue to fuel other retailers to move into the area.
Rogers offers the best Class A office space in the area and will continue to see development of that sector as companies move into the area needing office space.
With the completion of the branding process put forth by the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau declaring Rogers as the city “Where Possible Lives” and the adoption of this brand throughout the city I see Rogers being able to market itself on a level like never before on a regional and national level. Add in the cooperating efforts of the Northwest Arkansas Council’s economic development program and we are primed for continued rapid business and population growth.
How does Northwest Arkansas or Rogers rank among other cities nationally?
Northwest Arkansas and the cities within it have received multiple national recognitions this year from various publications and institutes:
Rogers has received recognition two years in a row by CNN/Money as the 10th best small city to live in America.
Northwest Arkansas as a region is ranked 5th best mid-sized metro in the nation for job growth by Forbes for 2011.
The Milken Institute ranked NWA as the 26th best performing metro area in the nation. This was a step up from our ranking of 43rd in 2010.
NWA is ranked as the 8th lowest metro area for cost of living by the Council for Community and Economic Research for the 3rd quarter of 2011.
Have you seen more growth in small business or large industry?
Rogers has seen very positive growth in both areas. The Minority Business Development program offered at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce has taken great strides this year in reaching out to minority business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Small business and entrepreneurs can receive assistance through various programs at the Chamber and our partnerships with organizations like Innovate Arkansas, the Arkansas Small Business Technology and Development Center, SCORE, and the Northwest Arkansas Council. These programs and partnerships are in place to continue to foster a positive climate for small business growth. In terms of large industry, there is current growth and planned expansions coming as I have mentioned above. We are always looking for future growth opportunities by keeping track of available properties and recruiting businesses that would be a good fit for our area.
If you own a business or are looking to start a business in Rogers or Lowell, please do not hesitate to contact myself or Geovanny Sarmiento, VP of Minority Business Development, at 479.636.1240