Expert urges NWA leaders to act on regional growth

The Northwest Arkansas region is slated to almost double in population by 2045.

Regarded as one of the best places to live in the nation, Northwest Arkansas (NWA) has long attracted people from across the country because its booming economy, employment offerings and community.

This, coupled with the increase in construction cost, low interest rates, have contributed to aexponential growth in housing cost for the region.

Rick Cole,Former Executive Director of Congress for New Urbanism, was in the region at the end of October 2022 to as the keynote speaker for the University of Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas Council’s State of the Region.

Cole is the former mayor of Pasadena, CA and has served in several planning and government roles throughout his career, helping cities navigate similar growth challenges in the past.

“This is God’s country. You have a beautiful landscape of agricultural and rural landscapes. You have some distinctive historic cities and that is why this place has such a loyalty from the people who lived here a long, and a magnet for people to come here,” said Cole. “You blink and this is all going to change. It is either going to change for the better or for the worse. You need to make some hard choices.”

Cole is an early advocate for New Urbanism and continues to be a champion for the movement today. As a lifelong public servant, Cole has been at the helm of several cities and aided in managing and navigating their exponential growth through comprehensive community-orientedplanning process.

As part of his presentation Cole warned NWA business and community leaders that now is the time to take responsibility and take action in helping to plan the future of NWA through a community planning process. The potential pitfalls or consequences of not doing so would mean that the region was putting their natural resources, agricultural community and affordability on the line.

Watch Cole’s full presentation here.