There is no typical Northwest Arkansan. Residents move to the region from all over the world.

More than half of the residents were born in other states, countries or territories. The diverse, growing workforce includes more than 260,000 people, and that number increases daily.

There are fantastic programs that allow business professionals to connect with one another and learn more about the communities where they live and work. Many great leadership programs are operated by chambers of commerce.

Groups such as Emerging Leaders exist to connect and engage young professionals through personal and professional development experiences. Membership is open to anyone in Northwest Arkansas who has a desire to get involved in the community, expand their leadership skills and become engaged in the program of work.

The Emerging Leaders program is divided into five teams, which have supported initiatives such as developing sustainable practices for nonprofit events, establishing community bike programs and educating members on issues and candidates seeking public offices.

Three other programs that are great resource for connecting with the community are Leadership Benton CountyLeadership Springdale, and Leadership Fayetteville.

Leadership Benton County is a 12-session regional program with components focused on such things as health care, local and county government, education and regional issues.

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce runs Leadership Arkansas, allowing participants to travel to venues all across the state to learn about such things as the military’s presence in the state, education, workforce development, highway funding and the how the state legislature functions.

Leadership Fayetteville participants meet once a month for 10 months from August to May.

Indeed, there are many interest groups and networking opportunities for professionals in Northwest Arkansas.