America's newest hot spot isn't where you'd expect. Forget the big cities. Ignore the coasts. The fastest-growing, most diverse, dynamic and promising piece of real estate in the country is right here at its heart, bordering the lakes and forests of the largest mountain range between the Appalachians and the Rockies.
Northwest Arkansas has enjoyed great prosperity and growth over the last decade. The Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers-Bentonville metroplex was recently declared the top-performing city in the United States by the Milken Institute in terms of economic performance and job creation. The area beat out cities like Las Vegas, San Diego and West Palm Beach, Fla., and moved up from No. 23 last year.
Part of the success of the region's economy is due to the major players headquartered here. The world's largest corporation, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., makes its home in Bentonville. Tyson Foods Inc., the largest poultry producer, is headquartered in Springdale. One of the country's largest trucking firms, J.B. Hunt, is located in Lowell. Those are only a few of the successful businesses that call Northwest Arkansas home.
Education is also an important factor in Northwest Arkansas. Fayetteville is home to the University of Arkansas System's flagship campus, with more than 16,000 college students from around the world. The second-largest community college in the state, Northwest Arkansas Community College, is located in Bentonville. Those two, along with other smaller colleges and technical institutes in the area, offer a wide range of curricula. For younger students, there are 17 public school districts, one charter school and several private schools.
Northwest Arkansas is situated between five cities with metro populations over a million are less than a half-day's drive away. Interstate 540/71 provides an uninterrupted connection between Kansas City in the north and I-40 to the south. One of the nation's high priority corridors, Highway 412, makes Northwest Arkansas the crossroads between Oklahoma City and Tulsa in the west, and the Tennessee border in the east—providing access to Nashville.
For longer trips, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport offers over 50 daily departures, with direct jet service to New York, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Memphis and St. Louis.