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Northwest Arkansas may be known for its retail and chicken, but in recent years the region has become a hub of technology and innovation.

Venture funds, grant programs and state-based incentives provide assistance to NWA businesses in those crucial early years. Innovate Arkansas has added 600+ jobs to the Arkansas economy by helping entrepreneurs turn their technology startup companies into viable commercial enterprises.

Homegrown startups and enterprise companies like CaseStack and RevUnit have opened the door for many local professionals who might have otherwise left NWA to pursue a career in technology.

But across the country, sourcing talent in these highly competitive fields is an ongoing challenge for many businesses. To keep local talent, NWA companies are making investments in their technology teams.

State-Of-The-Art Technology Facilities

Tyson Foods recently unveiled a new office space in downtown Springdale dedicated to building up tech entrepreneurship in the NWA area. The facility currently has 250 IT employees but Scott Spradley, CTO of Tyson Foods, plans to expand the workforce by many more.

“We can see the birthplace of a whole new epicenter of technology,” Spradley said as the facility unveiling. “As I talk with my friends at Walmart, J.B. Hunt, Rockfish and other technology companies, I really have a vision of getting them to look at this as a technical center as well.” (Talk Business)

J.B. Hunt is actively working to expand its tech talent pool with a four-story Training and Technology Center in Lowell. The 132,883 sq.ft. space will fit 1000 training, IT and tech support employees.

Competitive Work Perks

Local technology startups including RevUnitSupplyPikeMovista, and RichContext attract and retain top tech talent in Northwest Arkansas with incentives comparable to Silicon Valley.

Flexible vacation policies, professional development funds for books or training, company paid lunches, off-site team activities, arcade games, and beer kegs are just a few benefits tech teams can expect in NWA.

Higher Education

Growing a thriving local tech community is vital for the continued success of three Fortune 500 companies (Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt) headquartered in Northwest Arkansas.

Combined, these corporations employ thousands of local IT workers at all levels in programming, software development, network systems, and information support.

To combat the skilled labor shortage, Walmart, Tyson, J.B. Hunt and other Arkansas businesses have partnered with the University of Arkansas Global Campus, to build programs that prepare professionals for a career in technology. The IT Readiness Program is made affordable by grants from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Entry-level jobs with top NWA firms and startups are regularly offered to the graduates of these programs.