Conway was listed in reference to Little Rock’s metro area, which appeared at No. 19 among 25 metros ranked by the Milken Institute according to job climate.

The institute, a self-described nonpartisan think tank, ranks metropolitan areas by how well they create and sustain jobs. 

Influential components include job, wage and salary and technology growth. 

Five years of data go into each year’s analytics.

Arkansas appears just once in the report, and additional information provided by the Milken Institute shows Northwest Arkansas, including Fayetteville, Springdale and Rogers at No. 26.

Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway "skyrocketed an astounding 74 positions," to land at 19th place, the report states.

The metro area’s ranking for 2010 was at No. 93.

Number 19’s summary states that the metro’s focus on high quality jobs has paid off, and that wage growth rates were fifth ranking among top performing areas. 

"Contrary to what is occurring in most U.S. cities, Arkansas government payrolls are growing and rippling through the rest of Little Rock’s economy," the report stated.

According to the summary, administrative and support services added more than 2,200 jobs in the last year.

The University of Central Arkansas "generates stability and acts as a magnet" for companies seeking educated workers at lower costs, the report stated.

An additional boost to the local economy mentioned in the report is the $32 million expansion of Conway Regional Medical Center, now under way.

Conway Mayor Tab Townsell said Conway specifically has seen high-tech industry growth with the additions of Hewlett-Packard and a Southwestern Energy facility.

"We’ve seen high-tech industry growth, which is listed in the report along with job growth. Also in terms of quality job growth and wage and salary growth you see that with HP, Acxiom or Southwestern Energy," Townsell said. "Southwestern Energy jobs are extremely well-paying from top to bottom, particularly with the 450-people headquarters."

In the report’s executive summary, authors note that as the nation begins to recover from what economists have called "the Great Recession," some communities that have best weathered the recession "are poised to capture a bigger share of the impending expansion."

Jamie Gates, senior vice president at the Conway Chamber, said Conway and central Arkansas have survived better than most.

"It’s no secret that Conway and Central Arkansas have done better than the rest of the country in recent years...We’ve had quality job growth in all industries and this is a very diverse economy," Gates said. "I think the real story is not only that we’ve survived better than most, it’s that Conway and Central Arkansas are prepared to really take off and thrive during economic recovery."

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at