Business Climate

The greater Fort Smith region is a smart place to do business, which is why so many companies and industries call the area home. Geographical advantages include access to the Arkansas River, which provides a valuable shipping option for local manufacturers. This ties in directly with the location of several major rail lines, which transport freight throughout the country. The trucking industry also benefits from having the nation’s second busiest interstate, I-40, running through the region, along with I-49, which continues to expand to connect the country.

The diversity of local industries is another strength for the Fort Smith region. Agriculture, food processing, manufacturing, retail, transportation, and tourism are among just a few of the industries which drive the local economy. The varied scope of businesses lends stability to the region and promotes growth.

Companies also benefit from the area having a lower-than-average cost of living and doing business in comparison to many other areas of the country. CNBC’s ”America’s Top States for Business 2016” study ranked Arkansas and Oklahoma as the third and sixth states with the most affordable costs of living. The two were also ranked ninth and 13th respectively for the overall cost of doing business. This bodes well for both employees and employers, helping to boost both parties’ bottom lines.

In addition to strong Chambers of Commerce who are eager to help companies locate to the region, both Arkansas and Oklahoma have staff dedicated at the state level to assisting corporations and entrepreneurs navigate the process of starting or expanding their business. These qualified professionals can provide valuable knowledge and tools regarding subjects such as taxation, funding resources, and much more. For more information, contact:

Arkansas Economic Development Commission
Oklahoma Department of Commerce

About the Fort Smith Regional Alliance
The Fort Smith Regional Alliance (FSRA) is a collaborative organization of Arkansas and Oklahoma communities supporting one another in economic development. Comprised of cities and towns within a 50-mile radius of Fort Smith, FSRA has members in eight counties. They include:

Arkansas:                        Oklahoma:
Crawford                           LeFlore
Franklin                             Sequoyah

The Fort Smith Regional Alliance exists to better position our region to compete nationally and globally in economic development. The Fort Smith Regional Alliance unites all regional resources to better our regional product. These include collaboration with chambers of commerce, municipalities, counties, state agencies, legislators (federal, state, and local), higher education, economic development professionals, RITA (Regional Intermodal Transportation Authority), WAPDD (Western Arkansas Planning and Development District), Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, I-49 Coalition, among others.

Benefits of Membership
Members of the FSRA work together to highlight all that the Fort Smith Region has to offer and provide potential employers with the tools and information they need to learn more about the area. As a member of FSRA, participants benefit from having ties to local, regional, and state legislators, as well as the opportunity to interact with industry leaders throughout the state. Working as a cohesive body also allows members to plan for growth from a broader, regional perspective and strengthens promotion efforts of new initiatives or industries for the entire area.

Importance of FSRA
FSRA has an important role to play in helping to promote progress for the region. First, the organization can serve as a “first-stop” information source for industries considering locating in the Eastern Oklahoma/Western Arkansas Area. By providing an overall snapshot of what member communities have to offer, FSRA can highlight all of the geographic and economic benefits of doing business in the area. Companies are often drawn to areas which demonstrate regional cooperative efforts. There is also an undeniable “power in numbers.” Businesses go where they can have a major market impact and yield higher returns on their investments. By speaking in terms of regional population and resources available, the Fort Smith Regional Alliance helps position participating communities for potentially lucrative business opportunities from companies around the globe. For more information, call 479-783-3111