The city of Fayetteville's growth and prosperity is tightly tied to the University of Arkansas.
For example, the university has increased its enrollment by 1,500 students in each of the last three years, causing a need to build or renovate more dormitories, classrooms and meeting spaces. That has resulted in the local construction industry experiencing a spike in hiring.
“We are a college town, and the increase of 4,500 additional students over the past three years has also meant more faculty hiring and support staffers to handle administrative work,” says Chung Tan, director of economic development for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. “In addition, the U of A chancellor (David Gearhart) is a major backer of research and development, which is also a great contributor to our growing economy.”
In fact, the Carnegie Foundation ranks U of A among the top two percent of universities in America for research projects and capabilities. One key focus of research is in medicine, which resulted in new startup companie opening in Fayetteville and the opening of a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest physical therapy clinic in late 2014.
Faculty therapists at the UAMS Northwest clinic provide care for patients while students will receive hands-on experience through the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. A three-year postgraduate internal medicine residency program is currently working toward accreditation, with U of A officials expecting to enroll their first group of eight physician interns at the clinic in July 2015.
About 35 R&D Companies
U of A also has an Arkansas Research & Technology Park (ARTP) that houses about 35 research centers, institutes and laboratory companies affiliated with the university. One innovative enterprise doing business at ARTP is BlueInGreen, which develops lower-cost solutions for improving and maintaining water quality for cities.
ARTP also houses R&D companies such as Agricultural Research Initiatives, Arkansas Power Electronics International, ChiroCloud, Global Institute of Nanotechnology, Innovate Arkansas, Ozark Integrated Circuits, Silicon Solar Solutions, Space Photonics and UA Technology Ventures.
“ARTP is rapidly gaining recognition as a hub for the commercialization of emerging technology,” says Phillip S. Stafford, president of the University of Arkansas Technology Development Foundation. “The plan for ARTP is to stimulate the formation of a collaborative community of companies with university faculty and students who are linked interdependently in research and development.”
Most Advanced Materials on Earth
One of the oldest companies in the technology park is Arkansas Power Electronics International (APEI), founded in 1997 to develop, market and manufacture high-density and high-power electronic products for industries such as aerospace, the military and transportation. Several devices built at APEI are built from some of the most advanced materials on Earth, including silicon carbide and gallium nitride.
“The University of Arkansas is a rich source of ideas and talent upon which to grow the local economy,” Stafford says. “The ARTP is providing employment opportunities for high-technology workers and forming clusters of expertise that are important to attracting additional high-technology firms to the area.”