STEM jobs in central Arkansas face headwinds

Governor Asa Hutchinson has made a major effort in recent years to create greater opportunities for computer coding and software jobs to stay in Arkansas. Jobs projections indicate that the effort could be worth it: jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields are expected to grow by 10.5% over the next decade.

However, if an analysis of STEM jobs in central Arkansas is true, efforts to attract STEM workers and create jobs in the state are facing headwinds.

A report by research firm WalletHub, which looked at STEM jobs in the nation’s top 100 metropolitan markets, ranked Little Rock and Central Arkansas 97th. Other key metropolitan areas in the state, such as northwest Arkansas, were not included in the study.

Only Cape Coral, Florida; Delton, Florida; and Jackson, Miss., fared worse than the Central Arkansas area in the survey, which ranked metro areas based on 19 key metrics including wages, job opportunities and quality of life. The main STEM markets were Seattle, Boston and Austin, Texas.

In the region surrounding Arkansas, St. Louis ranked 17th overall; Dallas placed 34th; Nashville was 43rd; Tulsa came in at 76th; Baton Rouge in the 81st; and Memphis was just below central Arkansas at 96th.

Average monthly earnings for new employers in STEM industries in Little Rock were the lowest, just under $4,600. In comparison, the median annual STEM salary was $89,780.

“Average monthly earnings for new hires in STEM industries are what stand out the most in Little Rock,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said of the region’s low ranking. “They are currently the lowest income among all metropolitan areas included in the ranking and should definitely be improved to make the city more attractive for STEM professionals.”

Besides salary, other factors work against central Arkansas, including low math scores, research and development spending and intensity, and the number of invention patents per capita.

Attracting STEM workers and creating career opportunities for them is vital for the economic development of a region.

“STEM jobs are important to an economy because they generate job growth, high incomes, and because they drive innovation and development in almost every field,” Gonzalez said.

The governor has led an aggressive effort to create more STEM job opportunities with educational programs that begin training Arkansans as early as kindergarten, offering classes that increase math skills and other developments that push students towards careers in coding or software development.

Computer training has increased in Arkansas schools, and the governor has advocated for a program through the Arkansas Department of Education that pays bonuses to teachers certified to teach these courses.

There is still a long way to go, judging by WalletHub’s findings. More information about the study is available on wallethub.com.

STOP RECORD

Arvest Bank reports that its wealth management operations saw record growth in revenue and assets under management in 2021.

Arvest Wealth Management, which offers wealth management, trust, investment and insurance products and services, had $15.9 billion in assets under management at the end of last year, up from 14, $4 billion in 2020.

The company also said revenue grew from $69 million in 2020 to $87 million in 2021.

“More important than the numbers is the growth we’ve seen in expanding our relationships with existing customers to more effectively meet their evolving financial needs,” said the President and CEO. of Arvest Wealth Management, Jim King, in a press release. “We have also seen significant growth in the number of Arvest Bank clients who have entered into relationships with Arvest Wealth Management advisors.”

Arvest Private Banking, with assets of over $26 billion, serves more than 110 communities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

DISASTER HELP ALWAYS AVAILABLE

The five-county Arkansans have until Monday to apply for disaster unemployment assistance. Claims can be filed by residents of Craighead, Jackson, Mississippi, Poinsett and Woodruff counties that were impacted by severe storms and tornadoes that tore through the area on December 10 and 11.

Area residents who have temporarily lost their jobs due to the disaster and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits may qualify for special relief payments, which provide benefits for up to 28 weeks. The first possible clearing week is the week ending December 18 and the last possible clearing week is the week ending June 25, 2022.

Claims can be filed at state Labor Services offices in Jonesboro, Newport and Blytheville from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

INDUSTRIAL SITE SOLD

Brandon Square, a 177,000 square foot flexible industrial facility in southwest Little Rock, was sold last week for $6.3 million to JDI Realty LLC, of ​​Chicago.

The facility located at 8100-8124 Scott Hamilton Drive is 80% occupied by tenants including Sherwin Williams, Overhead Door, Pillar Logistics and Consolidated Electrical Distributors, among others. The site features features such as sloping wall construction, platform-height doors for each suite, and parking.

“Little Rock has few traditional flex industrial parks in the metro area that provide tenants with easy access to one of the nation’s busiest freeways, I-30,” said Nathan Monan. “Brandon Square’s amenities and convenient location have made it a great investment for our client and will no doubt do the same for its new owners.”

Monan of Colliers of Arkansas represented the seller, Parma, LLC. Colliers has handled the rental and management of the property for the past 20 years and will continue to do so under the new owners.

Ideas for columns or recommendations? Any thoughts or reflections that need to be pursued? Contact me at [email protected] or (501) 378-3567.

Margie D. Carlisle