Enjoy a recap of some of our favorite stories and headlines of 2022!
Northwest Arkansas No. 7 on U.S. News 'Best Places to Live'
For seven consecutive years, the annual “Best Places to Live” list by U.S. News & World Report has ranked Northwest Arkansas within the top 10 places in the country. This year, Northwest Arkansas landed at No. 7!
In 2016, the area ranked No. 3; in 2017, it ranked No. 5; in 2018, it ranked No. 8; in 2019, it ranked No. 4; in 2020, it ranked fourth again; and in 2021, it ranked No. 8.
Honorable mention: The 2022 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index ranked the region No. 8 in best-performing large cities in the U.S.
UCI 2022 World Cyclocross Championships
For the first time since 2013 and only the second time since the first event was held in Paris in 1950, Northwest Arkansas brought the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships to the United States. Dubbed the “Cycling Super Bowl” by the Wall Street Journal, the event played host to around 300 cyclists representing 25 nations who competed in front of 17,000 spectators, including an estimated 6,000 from Europe at Fayetteville’s Centennial Park in January.
Buffalo National River Celebrated 50th Anniversary
On March 1, 1972, the Buffalo River earned the designation of “national river”—the first of its kind in the national park system. The Buffalo River is one of the few rivers in the lower 48 states that has not been dammed. 50 years later, it continues to flow unimpeded for 135 miles surrounded by 94,293 acres of park wilderness including over 100 miles of hiking trails and sees an average of 800,000 visitors a year.
Did you know? In 2019, the National Park Service announced the designation of Buffalo National River as an International Dark Sky Park (IDSP). It became the 26th National Park Service site to receive this designation and the first in Arkansas, having some of the darkest skies in The Natural State.
NW Arkansas Ranks No. 3 Hottest U.S. Job Market (Metro Areas Under 1M Population) - WSJ
The Northwest Arkansas metro area was ranked the third hottest job market, according to The Wall Street Journal’s annual rankings based on Moody’s Analytics analysis of Labor Department data. Annual labor-market ratings judge metro areas on five attributes: job growth, unemployment rate, share of adults working or looking for work, change in the size of the labor force, and change in average weekly wages.
Honorable mention: Northwest Arkansas ranked no. 21 out of the top 25 most dynamic metros in the U.S. according to the Heartland Forward Most Dynamic Metros report released earlier this year. Researchers looked at wage, employment and GDP growth, as well as the average income of each metro.
Hollywood Lands in the Ozark Hills
This is more of a collection of headlines, but 2022 was a breakout year for films using Northwest Arkansas as the backdrop. Movies starring some of Hollywood’s top celebrities including Meg Ryan, David Duchovny, Martin Lawrence, John Malcovich, Justin Long and Kate Bosworth are all either available to watch or coming soon.
Honorable mention: “Every Day in Kaimuki” took top honors at the 8th annual Bentonville Film Festival. The week-long festival, led by Academy Award-winning actor and Festival Chair Geena Davis, is known for its dedication to championing female, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and people with disabilities’ voices in entertainment.
University of Arkansas Athletics
Although technically the 2021/2022 season, the Razorbacks made the NCAA Tournament in Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Gymnastics, and participated in a College Football bowl game—a feat that has only been accomplished by two other athletic programs in the country.
The Razorbacks won an NCAA title (Women’s Indoor Track & Field), earned eight Top-10 NCAA finishes and a remarkable 10 Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament championships, including SEC triple crown sweeps in both men’s and women’s cross country & track and field, a second-straight soccer regular season crown, the program’s first softball regular season title and a baseball regular season and tournament championship.
Northwest Arkansas Named Best Destination for Fall Foliage
Fall 2022 did not disappoint. Named Top 10 best destinations for fall foliage again this year by USA Today, there is really nothing like bearing witness to the burnt oranges, deep reds, and vibrant yellows that transform Northwest Arkansas into one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country each Autumn.
“A variety of different tree species, including maple, hickory, sycamore and oak, paint the landscape of the Arkansas Ozarks in warm fall colors each September and October. This mountainous landscape attracts leaf peepers who want to get outdoors for an autumn hike in the mountains.” – USA Today
Health and Wellness
Northwest Arkansas Health Care Transformation
This year, Northwest Arkansas made significant progress in its collective effort to become a top destination for health care. Here are a few of the 2022 headlines that caught our eye:
- The Alice L. Walton Foundation and Washington Regional Medical System announced plans to create a regional health system in partnership with the help of the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. Learn more
- Mercy Northwest Arkansas, one of the region’s largest health care systems, announced it will invest $500 million over the coming years to expand its services and create new jobs, which will include a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center and expansions to the emergency department and urgent care. Learn more
- The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Washington Regional Medical Center opened applications for a new medical residency program, the first in the region in years. Learn more
- The Alice L. Walton School of Medicine announced the next steps in its development of a state-of-the-art medical education facility in Bentonville. Learn more
- Our Healthy Alliance, a collaboration between community groups, Benton County, and the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences, launched a health equity initiative to connect local Marshallese and Hispanic communities to health care services, information and resources. Learn more
- Upskill NWA, a program that provides financial and social assistance to people looking to upskill into higher-paying careers in the region’s medical industry, held graduations for its first round of participants. Learn more
Northwest Arkansas Hosts the Davos of Mobility
More than 250 global technology and mobility leaders from 30 countries gathered in Bentonville in June at the 2022 UP.Summit. The gathering was jam-packed with demonstrations of innovative technical marvels including electric and autonomous aircraft, electric and autonomous cars and trucks, remote-controlled construction equipment, hydrogen-powered yard trucks, drones, and many other prototypes with the shared objective of “Transforming the Moving World” i.e. helping move people and goods cleaner, faster, safer, and at lower cost – on the ground, in the air, on the sea, and in space. The invitation-only annual event has become one of the more important gatherings in the world of transportation and logistics, attracting CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies, founders of innovative start-ups, and capital allocators representing more than $1 trillion of assets under management. Check out the event recap below.
Additional context: In February 2022, Gov. Asa Hutchinson established the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility and staked its claim to be a global leader in the future of transportation for next-generation technology by 2030. Following the UP.Summit, a planning grant was provided to the University of Arkansas to support its vision of becoming the preeminent university in smart mobility.
By all accounts, the first-ever FORMAT Festival (For Music + Art + Technology) lived up to the hype. The inaugural gathering was held on private property along Sugar Creek Airstrip in Bentonville on September 23-25. Over three days and nights, thousands of attendees experienced a diverse range of globally renowned international and local musicians and artists, alongside emerging talent and a myriad of special performances and surprise acts. Check out an interview with festival organizers in the article below.
FORMAT Festival has been nominated for Global Music Festival of the Year with under 30,000 in attendance.