Kourtney Barrett is a Bentonville native passionate about bringing ideas to life. She believes her latest opportunity to do that is once in a lifetime.
On April 11, Barrett joined the corporate real estate team at Walmart Inc. to lead workplace mobility efforts for the retailer’s new corporate campus. It’s situated on roughly 350 acres on the east side of J Street, between Central Avenue and 14th Street (Highway 102).
In the newly created position, Barrett will report to Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s senior vice president of corporate real estate. Marsiglio spelled out Barrett’s job responsibilities in an internal memo obtained by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. In the note, Marsiglio said Barrett will help define how Walmart engages employees, visitors and the community “to deliver an intentionally designed frictionless mobility experience.”
Walmart’s goal is to open the new campus in phases through 2025. Its design facilitates healthier employee transportation choices, reduces traffic and parking strains, and supports the community. The company says its goal is for 10% of Bentonville employees — around 1,500 — to use alternative transportation to commute to the new corporate campus.
In an interview with the NWABJ, Barrett said “alternative” could encompass many options.
“The primary way I’m focusing on is anything outside of one person in one vehicle,” she said. “Think [of] anything from tennis shoes to scooters to bikes to e-bikes, one wheels, skateboards, carpooling. The frictionless part is a community solution. Walmart is a big part of that, but not the only part. To be frictionless, we need to have community buy-in and have other area employers enjoying mobility options.”
Barrett has been a real estate entrepreneur and brand builder since she was 18. She worked for Acxiom Corp. in Little Rock for four years, then started a real estate company and grew a real estate franchise with her husband, Beau Barrett.
Barrett has been a full-time volunteer since 2018, focused on community building through women’s mountain biking and involvement (2020 board chairwoman) with the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. She got her business degree from John Brown University in 2011 while launching a pair of startups — Urban Chicken (backyard farming) and Junk Brands (athletic headwear). Barrett and her husband started Junk Brands in 2011, then sold the business to Bentonville headwear apparel company Outdoor Cap Co. in 2017 for an undisclosed amount.
In 2018, Barrett co-founded Women of Oz NWA, an inclusive nonprofit that aims to lower the barrier of entry for women mountain bikers.
Barrett, who began riding to work in 2013 on a commuter bike, said the mobility conversation is happening across Bentonville, regionally and nationally. Her job — and how to get started — is not easily defined. Still, she said her initial approach would be to identify the barriers and how to eliminate them.
“The solution does not exist today,” she said. “That’s why I have this role — to strategize, design and implement how we will do this. I will listen a lot and draw on my own experiences and those around me of commuting through town. What the solution looks like several years from now will be different from today.”
Barrett said the fact that she’s lived in Bentonville since she was a child adds a little more excitement to the job.
“You couldn’t pry me out of Northwest Arkansas, no matter the opportunity,” she said. “I feel very fortunate that this opportunity came up when it did and aligns with the work I had already been doing and my goals for the future.”