University of Arkansas economist Kathy Deck is relocating to Alabama, Steve Voorhies, UA manager of media relations, confirmed on Monday (March 13). She has taken a job as director of community and economic research projects at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
For 10 years, Deck has served as director of the UA Center for Business and Economic Research in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, where her job has been to gather data about the Arkansas economy and assemble it in a cohesive way for a broad audience. Before that, she was associate director since 2001.
As an economist, Deck said she has experienced a wide range of highs and lows during her time at the UA.
“It’s a lot more fun when things are going well, when you can talk about job creation, prosperity, entrepreneurship and how things are getting better. I’ve gotten a lot of that in Northwest Arkansas,” Deck said.
Then, there was the Great Recession. “During the recession I had to talk about people losing their jobs, losing their homes and there was this gargantuan wealth loss,” she said. “Those were much harder presentations to make. I remember one presentation in particular where Realtors walked out with their head hung.”
But, if Deck only gave good news, she wouldn’t be doing her job, she said. “It comes with the territory.”
Deck was featured as one of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 honorees in 2009, shortly after she led her first Business Forecast Luncheon, an annual event where business leaders and economists gather to discuss the economic outlook of the world, state and region.
The CBER coordinates or produces several regular informative events that have featured Deck. CBER collaborates with the Northwest Arkansas Council in Springdale to producE the Quarterly Business Analysis – which looks at key economic trends, projections and issues facing the state and NWA economies – and the annual State of the NWA Region Report.
Deck also has led CBER in executing a number of research papers, including economic impact studies and labor market surveys. CBER puts out the Skyline Report, a biannual real estate analysis sponsored by Arvest Bank, in addition to the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, an annual report published each fall, examining statewide consumer attitudes.
Deck said the Alabama job is similar to what she’s doing in Arkansas in terms of understanding regional economics and making strategic plans and economic impact studies. She will also manage community partnerships.
Deck and her husband, UA economics Prof. Cary Deck, decided to make the move to Alabama after he was offered an endowed chair, the Lee Bidgood Chair of Economics and Finance, at the university.
The couple has a 13-year-old son named Josh, a freshman at Fayetteville High School.
“It was a hard decision, because we have such deep affection for Northwest Arkansas and for the state as a whole,” Kathy Deck said. “It really is a fabulous opportunity for us to move forward, and that’s what we’re doing.
“It is new chapter and a really exciting opportunity,” she said.
Deck said she will miss “almost everything about NWA,” but especially the people – she said the region has “special thing going on” in terms of its collaborative spirit – and she will also miss the bike trails and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
“It’s a wonderful place to call home, and I will continue to be a staunch advocate for that,” she said. “The region just keeps getting better and better.”
Deck earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., in 1996 and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1998. She worked as an economist for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office just before joining CBER.
In 2015, Deck was appointed to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Board’s Real Estate Industry Council and has served on the executive board of the national organization, the Association for the University of Business and Economic Research, since 2013.
Deck said she will resign next month. Voorhies said the university is planning to issue a press release on Deck’s departure.
CBER Assistant Director Mervin Jebaraj will act as interim director while the UA looks for a permanent successor for Deck.