NWA Community Survey

Northwest Arkansas is made up of a variety of small and medium-sized cities located within Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington Counties. The region continues to experience population growth, increased ethnic and cultural diversity, and economic expansion, despite the recent economic downturn. While the Northwest Arkansas Community Indicators report focused on the entire four-county region, the Northwest Arkansas Community Survey is more limited in scope, targeting only those households located in Benton and Washington Counties.

The survey was limited to Benton and Washington Counties because these two counties are the region’s population centers, containing approximately 90 percent of the region’s total population, 90 percent of all Hispanic residents, and more than 98 percent of all Black/African American residents. Benton County population estimates in 2009 showed 225,504 residents. The largest city in Benton County is Rogers, though the city of Bentonville continues to grow rapidly as more in- migrants are attracted to the opportunities related to Wal-Mart Corporate headquarters in Bentonville. Washington County population estimates showed 200,181 residents in 2009. The largest city in Washington County is Fayetteville.

The Northwest Arkansas Community Survey (NWACS) provides a comprehensive picture of nearly 1,300 residents’ views about quality-of-life in Northwest Arkansas. The survey asked respondents to provide their views on a variety of topics ranging from their overall assessments of Northwest Arkansas as a place to live, to their evaluations of core services like health care, education, and transportation. The bulk of the survey, however, was directed toward the measurement of what social scientists call “social capital.”

This project was a collaborative effort between the University of Arkansas’ Community and Family Institute, Justice Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Northwest Arkansas Community Foundation, and the United Way of Northwest Arkansas. In addition, the continued funding of the Community and Family Institute through the Jones Trust Fund was instrumental to this effort.

The intent of this survey report is two-fold. First, is to provide the people of Northwest Arkansas with an empirically grounded understanding of the attitudes and opinions of residents about their communities, neighbors, and social relationships. The second is to serve as a resource for citizens, service providers, and other stakeholders as they discuss the region’s challenges, build upon its successes, and plan for its future.

Northwest Arkansas Community Survey