Fast 15: Mervin Jebaraj

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 238 views 

Mervin Jebaraj might have grown up in Dubai, but he’s a card carrying member of the American Outlaws.

That’s the name of the ardent fan base for U.S. soccer, and Jebaraj helped cofound the Fayetteville chapter. He’s also a supporter of one of the biggest clubs in all of sports, Manchester United.

But when he’s not cheering for Team USA or the Reds, Jebaraj is pouring over the stats and data that show Northwest Arkansas for what it is — a booming land of opportunity.

At the Center for Business and Economic Research, he’s instrumental in creating the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, the State of the Northwest Arkansas Region Report, and the economic impact studies for both the UA and the Arkansas Research and Technology Park.

In his post since 2007, Jebaraj holds a master’s in public administration and public policy, and a bachelor’s in economics, international relations and European studies, from the UA. Along with English, he also speaks, reads and writes Arabic, French and Hindi, and speaks Tamil, a language in southern India.

In addition to his work at the university, Jebaraj is also active as an independent contractor in politics, generating research and analysis for candidates and office holders. His hope is to affect sound legislation.  

“What drives my work is to find a problem and derive a solution,” he said. “Trust me, I enjoy winning elections, but what really excites me is what comes afterward — the policy.”

His most notable political work is with Rep. Greg Leding, a third-term Democrat from Fayetteville.

The only one in his immediate family to live in the U.S., Jebaraj is married to Teryl, and the couple have a pet cat, Theo.

Knowing the numbers, Jebaraj is bullish on the future of Northwest Arkansas.

“It’s still a fast-growing region, and there’s still a lot of opportunity,” he said. “I see that continuing.”

When asked if this region will ever reach one million people, as some have predicted, he laughs.

“If we wait long enough,” he said. “But we’re a long way from that.”