Three colleges — Harding University and two Arkansas State University campuses — are located in White County, contributing to a skilled and knowledgeable workforce for industries such as healthcare, food processing and manufacturing. Arkansas State University’s branch in Beebe offers an excellent Practical Nursing program, which fuels regional healthcare institutions like Unity Health – White County Medical Center. White County’s location puts businesses less than an hour north of the Little Rock National Airport, Little Rock River Port and the intersection of Interstates 30 and 40, making logistics and distribution a breeze. Searcy, where the county’s largest population resides, is chockful of recreation, arts and culture, and festivals.
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Saline County earned its name from early salt works in the area that shipped the product to parts in the south. Over the last 15 booming years, Saline’s population increased nearly 40 percent, with community infrastructure keeping pace. Benton and Bryant, in particular, have become a draw for the residents thanks to the high quality of education offered at local schools, and upscale city amenities. Benton, Saline County’s most populous city, is home to the newly constructed, state-of-the-art River Center at the stunning Riverside Park. Thanks to amenities like the River Center, the region continues to take home rankings for quality of life. In 2018, Benton ranked No. 1 among the Suburbs with the Best Public Schools in Arkansas, and Bryant ranked No. 1 among the Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in Arkansas, according to Niche. Both cities score in the top five on measures of safety and housing value and among the top-10 best places for millennials and families to live in Arkansas.
The largest county in Arkansas, Pulaski County is made up of a diverse group of cities, including Little Rock, the state’s capital and most populous city, North Little Rock, Sherwood, Maumelle and Jacksonville. The birthplace of FinTech, Pulaski County is a host to numerous economic sectors, including food processing, manufacturing, biotechnology, aerospace and more. Pulaski County’s workforce is bolstered in part to six universities and colleges in the area, as well as resources for entrepreneurs like the Little Rock Tech Park and Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in North Little Rock. Moving products and people to and from Pulaski County is made easy thanks to a transportation network that includes access to the country’s busiest interstates, robust rail infrastructure and the Port of Little Rock and Clinton National Airport. The state’s largest cultural institution, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center are two hallmarks of the region’s lively and robust arts and culture scene. North Little Rock is home to Burns Park, Arkansas’ largest city park, as well as Simmons Bank Arena in the Argenta Arts District, which draws world-class acts and serves as a draw for artists on tour between Dallas and Nashville. In Sherwood and Maumelle, residents enjoy close-knit neighborhood communities and lovely suburban homes with close access to Little Rock and North Little Rock. As a whole, Pulaski County offers numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation, from cycling the Arkansas River Trail, to hiking Pinnacle Mountain, to water sports on the Arkansas River. Maumelle has two recreational lakes, Lake Willastein and Lake Valencia, and an eighteen-hole championship golf course. Sherwood is a hub for healthcare, as the home to major operations for Cardinal Health as well as CHI St Vincent’s North Hospital. The Little Rock Air Force Base operates out of Jacksonville, which has a rich military history.
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The Ouachita National Forest makes up nearly half of Perry County, creating a balance of lumber-driven commerce and recreation, with 685 miles of county roads woven throughout. Manufacturing and food processing are also an important part of the area’s economy. Notably, Perry County is home to Heifer Ranch, an arm of Heifer International, a nonprofit providing food and agricultural training for people across the world. Rich in natural resources, Perry County is a hub for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and boating. Lake Nimrod, Fourche LaFave River and the eastern boundaries of the Arkansas River are among the county’s natural greatest assets. Just 20 miles from Conway and 38 miles from Little Rock, Perry County gives residents and businesses direct access to diverse arts and culture and other metropolitan amenities.
Less than 30 minutes from Little Rock is Lonoke County and the cities of Lonoke, Cabot, Carlisle and England. The area’s proximity to the state capital’s higher education, industries and resources means county residents get the perks of big-city living with all the charm of a small town. Education, healthcare and retail top the list of industries, and Little Rock Air Force Base, the nation’s largest C-130 base, is just minutes away. Lonoke, Cabot, Carlisle and England all offer small-town, family-friendly living and their own unique amenities including the Carlisle Municipal Airport, the Lonoke School District’s Carver Business Academy and a range of parks and recreation assets, including the Cabot Aquatic Park and the world’s largest freshwater fish hatchery located in Lonoke, operated by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
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Once known as a capital for the cotton industry, Jefferson County has diversified into a region beating with innovation and opportunity for industrial development. Food processing, healthcare, manufacturing and education are among the county’s largest industries. Home to the Port of Pine Bluff-Jefferson County, the region serves as a hub for the distribution of paper, feed ingredients, fertilizer, steel and other commodities. At Jefferson County’s heart is the city of Pine Bluff. Residents enjoy a range of activities, from arts and culture at the Arts & Sciences Center to dozens of world-class bass fishing tournaments. Two colleges — the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff and Southeast Arkansas College — fuel Pine Bluff’s workforce pipeline.
Located on Interstate 30, Hot Spring County is 45 minutes south of Little Rock. The county’s hub is Malvern, a city home to the College of the Ouachitas, a public community college where students can earn degrees and certificates in 14 different fields. “The Brick Capital of the World,” the city’s industrial base includes lumber mills, metals, small industry and, of course, brick plants. Each July, the county celebrates with “Brickfest,” an event with arts and entertainment. Lake Catherine and its namesake state park offer plentiful opportunities for camping, hiking and outdoor adventures.
Named after the U.S. President, Grant County is an outdoor enthusiast’s oasis. The Saline River flows through the county, creating popular spots for anglers. The City of Sheridan, the county seat, is approximately 32 miles due South of Little Rock, so metropolitan amenities are within close reach of the area’s rolling, pine-covered hills. The adjacent Jenkins Ferry State Park, a Civil War battle site, features swimming, picnicking and a boat launch ramp. The largest industries in the county include manufacturing, healthcare and retail, with a blend of professional, scientific and technical services.
Garland County’s economy is well defined by its tourism industry, as well as healthcare and education. Garland County is home to the only national park in Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park, which draws over 2 million visitors annually. In addition, Oakland Racing Casino Resort, a casino and live thoroughbred racing complex, just announced a $100 million expansion that includes a 200-room high-rise hotel. National Park Community College is located in Hot Springs and is the fourth largest community college in Arkansas.
While harvests of varying crops provided an early foundation, Faulkner County has grown into the fifth-largest county in Arkansas thanks to diversification of industry. It’s home to Conway, which is known as the City of Colleges because of its three higher education institutions. As a result, over 40 percent of Conway adults hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and work in fields such as healthcare, technology, energy and manufacturing. Conway is home to unique resources for entrepreneurs and businesses, such as the Arkansas Coding Academy and the University of Central Arkansas’ cyber range, a fully functional dedicated computer system for cyber security training. Conway also offers prime industrial and office sites, such as The Meadows Office & Technology Park. As a place to live, Conway has unrivaled public amenities and an elite K-12 school system, all while maintaining one of the country’s lowest costs of living. Business-friendly Faulkner County also calls the culturally minded, with an arts community that’s home to the state’s only professional Shakespeare theater company.
Located at the base of Petit Jean Mountain along the Arkansas River, Morrilton & Conway County offers the best in small town attributes with easy access to big city amenities. Petit Jean State Park is a top visitor destination in Arkansas and the county is served by Interstate 40, US Hwy 64, the Union Pacific Railroad, the Little Rock Western Railroad, the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, numerous state highways, and two public airports. Conway County has a strong manufacturing presence with multiple large employers with long-ties to the community. Additionally, Conway County is a center of education and home to the University of Arkansas Community College – Morrilton, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and quality K-12 public and parochial schools.
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Quick Links –
Morrilton Area Chamber of Commerce – www.morrilton.com
University of Arkansas Community College – Morrilton – www.uaccm.edu
Winthrop Rockefeller Institute – www.rockefellerinstitute.org
Petit Jean State Park – www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/petit-jean-state-park
Central Arkansas Intermodal Authority – www.centralarintermodalauthority.com
City of Morrilton – www.cityofmorrilton.com
Historically rich, Clark is one of the original five counties that composed the Arkansas Territory when it was established in 1819. Its economy is supported by healthy manufacturing and education sectors, and the region hosts three colleges and universities. With its blend of mountains and state and national parks located at the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, Clark County is a popular recreation destination for hikers, boaters, anglers and others. Arkadelphia, the county seat, is home to Ouachita Baptist University, which offers a liberal arts experience rooted in faith, and Henderson State University, Arkansas’ premier member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. The region also enjoys a thriving arts and culture reputation, with exhibits, productions and educational workshops.