To encourage entrepreneurs and other technology professionals to relocate to Northwest Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Council announced Wednesday (Jan. 12) that it would offer $10,000 in bitcoin as an incentive.
In doing so, Northwest Arkansas will become the first region in the country to offer cryptocurrency to potential transplants, as the region’s growing tech sector — specifically within blockchain-enabled technologies — is looking for talent.
“Northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, and we’re now seeing more explosive growth in our tech sector,” Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, said in a statement. “This expanded incentive offer — Bitcoin and a Bike — not only embraces the growing trend toward the use of cryptocurrency as a payment option by employers but also helps increase our pipeline of talent to benefit tech employers, startups, cities, local businesses and the region overall.”
According to a news release, the initiative is made possible by philanthropic support from Steuart Walton and Tom Walton through the Walton Family Foundation. The Walton brothers are grandsons of Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton.
The bitcoin offer focuses on tech professionals and entrepreneurs with expertise in blockchain-related technologies. It is also open to a diverse pool of potential applicants looking to call Northwest Arkansas home. More information on the incentive, including qualifications and how to apply, can be found at this link.
The Northwest Arkansas Council will review applications with support from The Center for Blockchain Excellence at the University of Arkansas.
In addition to the $10,000 worth of bitcoin, recipients will receive a street or mountain bike.
Wednesday’s announcement is the next installment of the Life Works Here initiative, which aims to attract top talent to the region with more than $1 million in incentives. Since the November 2020 launch, the initiative has generated over 35,000 applications from people in more than 115 countries and 50 states interested in relocating to Northwest Arkansas. The initial incentive, $10,000 and a bike, remains open to remote STEAM professionals.
“Northwest Arkansas is an emerging tech hub in the heartland, with incubator opportunities for startups and an entrepreneurial mindset,” Peacock said. “The recent announcement by electric vehicle startup Canoo to relocate its headquarters to the region is a testament to the burgeoning innovation in the area.”
The use and popularity of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has grown significantly in the past few years. Many financial institutions and retail now accept it. Central to the emergence of cryptocurrency systems and other sectors is the role blockchains play in helping maintain the security and storage of the data by users.
The Northwest Arkansas Council touts the UA’s Blockchain Center of Excellence as a critical asset for Northwest Arkansas’ growth as a leading tech hub. The center partnered with the Northwest Arkansas Council to provide technical expertise and counsel related to specific needs for blockchain-related offerings. It was established in May 2018 to make the Sam M. Walton College of Business a premier academic leader in research and education of blockchain-enabled technologies and digital ecosystems.
“We believe next-generation talent is essential to further transform our region into a hub for up-and-coming tech innovators and businesses,” said Mary Lacity, director of the Blockchain Center of Excellence at the University of Arkansas. “We’re excited to see our region leading the way with Bitcoin and a Bike to not only bring in new talent but also generate interest in the important blockchain-focused work taking place in our region.”