New Report Shows Growing Foreign-Born Population is an Economic Engine for Northwest Arkansas

Immigrants contributed $3.1 billion to the metro area’s GDP in 2014


New Report Shows Growing Foreign-Born Population is an Economic Engine for Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas– New American Economy, EngageNWA, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, released a study on the impact of immigration in the Northwest Arkansas region. By starting new businesses that create jobs, supporting the workforce of the area’s top industries, buying homes, and paying taxes, the report shows how the foreign-born population is making significant contributions to the region’s economy, as well as its cultural diversity. With this report release, Northwest Arkansas is on track to be one of the first Welcoming Regions in the country, joining Welcoming America’s network of more than one hundred welcoming communities.

Drawing on data from the American Community Survey, the study highlights how new Americans play a critical role in the future success of the Northwest Arkansas metro area.

“The details in the research indicate a defining moment in the shaping of the economy of the Northwest Arkansas Region. The talent and skills that are exhibited in the workforce, coupled with the spending impact of individuals new to this country, are directly impacting the growth of the economy today and will in years to come,” said Terry Bankston, Executive Director of EngageNWA.

“With a $3 billion annual boost to local GDP, immigrants are helping power a growing and prosperous Northwest Arkansas,” said John Feinblatt, Chairman of New American Economy. “Immigrants are entrepreneurs, job creators, taxpayers, and homeowners – and together they’re making the metro area an even more attractive destination for businesses and families alike.”

“Northwest Arkansas is showing great leadership by making this commitment; we applaud this innovative partnership between business, local government, and community leaders working to ensure residents of all backgrounds can fully contribute to the region’s economic and social vitality. We hope this effort will spark a trend of neighboring communities and regions coming together to model this groundbreaking approach,” said David Lubell, Founder and Executive Director of Welcoming America.

Global Talent: The Economic Engine of Northwest Arkansas finds:

  • Immigrants accounted for 42 percent of the region’s population growth between 2009 and 2014.
  • Immigrants contributed $3.1 billion to the metro area’s GDP in 2014 and held $1 billion in spending power.
  • Immigrants contributed $131 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Immigrants in the region contributed $698.1 million to Social Security and $163.3 million to Medicare during the period from 2009 to 2014.
  • Between 2000 and 2014, immigration to the region increased the total housing value by $759 million.
  • While 11.1 percent of the population, immigrants are 15.4 percent of the region’s employed labor force, and helped to create or preserve 2,569 manufacturing jobs.
  • Immigrants who own their own businesses generated $35 million in business income in 2014.
  • International students attending institutions of higher education in the region supported 522 local jobs and contributed more than $46 million to the local economy in 2014.

The report features stories of prominent New Americans in the Northwest Arkansas region. Profiles include the story of Zakir Syed, an immigrant from India who helped support his family through high school by washing dishes in an Italian restaurant, earned a college degree from Purdue University, and moved to Northwest Arkansas where he now owns two homes. As Director of Category and Modular Development for Walmart, Syed is in charge of analysis and design of how products are assorted and displayed in the entertainment and electronics section of Walmart stores.

As part of a broader strategy for promoting the region as a global community of talent, New American Economy, Welcoming America, EngageNWA, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation are convening local leaders to develop a regional approach to welcoming and integrating immigrant communities.

For additional reading, see A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

Read the report here.


About New American Economy

New American Economy (NAE) brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. NAE members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech and Media to Manufacturing. NAE members understand that immigration is essential to maintaining the productive, diverse and flexible workforce that America needs to ensure prosperity over the coming generations. Learn more at

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by making everyone feel like they belong. We believe that all people, including immigrants, should be valued contributors and are vital to the success of both our communities and our shared future. Welcoming America provides the inspiration and foundation for this growing movement, bringing together an innovative and growing network of local governments and nonprofits, and connecting them to their peers and to what works. Welcoming America’s groundbreaking social change model is unique in its holistic local focus – our approach goes beyond a single program or service to work across the community to reduce barriers that immigrants face to fully participating and build bridges between newcomers and long-time residents. Learn more at

About EngageNWA

The EngageNWA Partnership was launched in April 2013 as a joint partnership between The Jones Trust and the Northwest Arkansas Council to help newcomers and residents become more integrated and engaged in the Northwest Arkansas community. In addition to the founding partners, Walmart, Tysons, and a variety of educational, municipal, consultancy, nonprofit and supplier partners from throughout the region support the partnership. The impact of these efforts will strengthen the regional economy and position Northwest Arkansas as a community of engaged global talent. For more information please visit

About Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

For more than 40 years, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has worked to make a difference by helping to build and sustain the organizations that serve and strengthen Arkansas. Through grantmaking and strategic partnerships, WRF is working even harder to help close the economic and educational gaps that leave too many Arkansas families in persistent poverty. Working together, the needle can and must move from poverty to prosperity for all Arkansans. For more information on the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, go to:



Sarah Doolin Roy, New American Economy,

Deborah Hakes, Welcoming America,

Terry Bankston, EngageNWA,

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…