Groundwork concludes first phase of FutureIsNow and community outreach campaign

Groundwork embarked on a new community outreach initiative this past fall, participating in local events across NW Arkansas.

This past fall, Groundwork launched the first phase of the FutureisNow campaign, an educational effort that aims to educate our region on, build support and public will around new policies, programs and initiatives that will help expand housing for working families near employment, commercial and cultural centers in Northwest Arkansas. The campaign was centered on a community outreach strategy, that was supplemented by targeted advertising placements across the region that includes television, radio, billboards, and digital advertising.

The goals of the community outreach campaign were to meet the community where they are, listen to concerns about housing, and provide information about the steps Groundwork is taking to combat raising housing costs. For 12 weeks between September and November, Groundwork tabled at events from Fayetteville to Bella Vista, spending 130 hours in the community and engaging with nearly 2,000 community members.

In addition, Groundwork took the opportunity to informally survey members of the community to better understand their pain points and collect data on issues community members were facing. With NW Arkansas population growth estimates projected to reach 1 million people by 2045, one concern that has come up is that of displacement and gentrification. The stories presented are common throughout the region: frustration with the cost of housing, fears of being displaced from hometowns, firefighters unable to afford to live in the town in which they work, teachers moving away from their hometown due to affordability and years long waitlists for rentals. As one community member shared, it feels like people are being pushed out from NW Arkansas. Of those surveyed:

  • 31% spend 45% or more of their income on housing

  • 85% stated that affordable housing is a top concern for NW Arkansas, with education and infrastructure being also a concern.

  • 35% have a commute to work that is longer than 20 minutes

“Recognizing the immediate need for action, Groundwork is committed to turning these challenges into opportunities for positive change,” said Director of Communications and Advocacy Isabel Gamarra. “The solutions are vast, including more affordable housing options, zoning reforms that allow for more residential developments along major thoroughfares and prioritizing innovative placemaking that create vibrant communities. We saw time and again that many community members supported these efforts and were eager to get involved.”

Moving forward, Groundwork has contracted with a consultant to undergo a comprehensive evaluation of the campaign. As part of the evaluation, the consultant will field a survey within the local community. The results will serve as strategic guidance as the campaign moves into 2024. Groundwork will launch the second-phase of the continue the tabling community outreach Spring 2024 to ensure that community voices are being heard, and that solutions proposed avoid displacement for the region's workforce.

2023 Event List:

Farmer’s Markets in Siloam Springs, Fayetteville, Rogers, and Bentonville

Fayetteville First Thursday

Pea Ridge Second Saturday

NWA Community Showcase: Rogers

NWA Festival: Bella Vista

Bentonville County Fair

Pea Ridge Mule Jump

Harvest Festival: Fayetteville

Holiday Market: Springdale