Michael Harvey, Chief Operating Officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council, says 2012 got off to a great start.
"We were running 2-3 times what we were in 2011," he says. "It really looked good the first couple of months and then the election I think really kind of threw a wrench into things."
He says big companies are waiting for congress to pull away from the financial cliff before deciding where to invest.
We're kinda hearing the same thing around the state around the country," he says. "It's definitely related to what's going on in Washington DC."
Harvey says external investment is important to economic development, but it isn't everything. Local companies that start here and grow provide strength.
"New job growth, if you look at a region, is mostly organic," he says. "That i think over the long term is a lot more sturdy... It might come in nickles and dimes, it might be one person, five people, ten people, but if a company starts here... they're putting down roots here, they're a part of this community."
Companies like Acumen Brands, a local startup that focuses on niche markets in online retail. The company started selling women's boots on one of it's sites, Country Outfitter.com, and demand exploded.
"We're growing at a pace that most people don't ever see," says Creative Director Cade Collister. "We have about 4.5 million Facebook fans now. We've surpassed Pottery Barn, J. Crew. We're in the top."
In the last year the company added more than eighty jobs and is quickly outgrowing its Fayetteville warehouse.
"When we moved in here we had startup things like a basketball court, ping pong tables," Collister says. "Now our basketball court holds $1 million worth of boots."
Ramsay Ball works with the start up companies to help them succeed, and he says Northwest Arkansas provides fertile soil for entrepreneurs.
"We have such wonderful infrastructure, we have so many companies that are located here," Ball says. "One of the most exciting scenes in the nation is going on in Northwest Arkansas right now."
The region boasts big businesses in retail, food science and transportation, not to mention a University on the leading edge of resource driven technology.
"All the dynamics are coming together and Northwest Arkansas is quickly becoming the place to be in this region for growing a young company," Ball says. "There's connections, expertise, mentorship and most importantly... most companies need money to grow so we're working hard on raising money."
"We were just in the right place in the right time," he says. "I've always thought Arkansas was really kind of off the radar. There's a lot of talent here, and a lot of people just don't know it."
Wal-Mart offers more coverage to its employees
Illegal Immigration Cost
How much does illegal immigration cost Benton County?
Developers Want More Water Pressure at Beaver Lake
Developers are trying to tackle a possible fire hazard at Beaver Lake.
Simmons Foods Gets On-Site Medical Care
Workers at Simmons Foods won't have to look far for medical care.
Auto Group Could Get New Co-Owner
BET founder could become co-owner of Landers-McLarty Auto Group