UAFS, Talk Business & Politics partner to relaunch The Compass Report

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,435 views 

Talk Business & Politics and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith are partnering to restart The Compass Report – the only independent economic analysis of Arkansas’ top four metro areas (Central Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith, and the Jonesboro region).

The Compass Report was launched in the first quarter of 2009 to measure the Fort Smith metro economy. In 2012 it was expanded to include the central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas metro areas, and in 2016 the Jonesboro metro was added to the report. Personnel and other changes resulted in the report being halted at the end of 2017.

The report for the first quarter of 2023 will be posted later this week.

The report measures four leading and four current economic indicators to provide a grade for a regional economy. The eight categories measured to determine The Compass Report grade in the Central Arkansas, Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas areas are total nonfarm jobs, unemployment rate, building permits, sales tax revenue, manufacturing jobs, service sector jobs, construction jobs, tourism jobs and concentration of manufacturing jobs.

Kendall Ross, executive director of the UAFS Center for Economic Development, will manage the gathering of data and provide narrative based on the economic indicators. Ross earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s degree in leadership from Hillsdale College. Prior to joining UAFS, he was employed as an engineering manager of Research and Development at Rheem Manufacturing and operated a private consulting firm for a number of years.

“It is a privilege to participate in The Compass Report and to provide insight on the economic indicators that drive our region’s growth. I am excited to work with Talk Business & Politics and Greg Kaza to provide valuable data that will help inform business decisions and drive economic development in Arkansas,” Ross said.

“Beyond serving as the hub of economic development and leadership training of western Arkansas, the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Center for Economic Development professionals serve as the workforce and economic analytics experts for our region,” said UAFS Chancellor Dr. Terisa Riley. “I appreciate the partnership with Talk Business & Politics, which provides a highly credible and broad-ranging platform for educating and serving the state of Arkansas.”

Greg Kaza, an economist and executive director of the Arkansas Policy Foundation, has agreed to provide commentary about the data.

Michael Tilley, a co-owner and executive editor of Talk Business & Politics, said The Compass Report was well received by the business community because it provided unique info on the state and regional economies.

“We would hear from business owners who said the report was part of what helped them make budgeting and other decisions. So we are grateful that Chancellor Riley and Kendall Ross have agreed to help us revive the report. Their significant input and resources will result in a consistently robust report, and having Greg Kaza’s analysis will provide insight beyond the numbers,” Tilley said.