{ business directory }


BY DR. LATISHA SETTLAGE // UAFS College of Business 


As the history of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith has evolved, so has its role in the economy. In 2009 an economic study of UAFS was undertaken in an attempt to measure the impact of the institution on the surrounding community in fiscal 2008. The study found that the university generated a $169 million total impact on the Fort Smith region. The magnitude of this impact was based on operation and payroll budget as well as student spending. Visitor spending was not considered.

Following growth in its student body and faculty, a second study in 2012 (using fiscal 2011 data) was completed. This study found that the university’s economic impact had grown to more than $220 million and noted the university’s growth in visitor activity and the athletic transition from NJCAA to NCAA Division II, as well as the construction of on-campus housing and parking expansion.

"UAFS has been an instrumental partner in the success of our business. As a local community bank, we are dependent on UAFS to attract, retain, and develop the human talent required to compete in a rapidly evolving economy. We are grateful for how First National has benefited from our relationship with UAFS."

– Samuel T. Sicard, President/CEO at First National Bank of Fort Smith


Multiplier effects occur when the spending from the direct impact supports other jobs in the economy (i.e., housing, food and medical services for faculty, staff, students, and visitors as well as building materials, furniture, technology, and other supplies to support UAFS facilities)

In June 2012 the UAFS invested $14.1 million in an expansion and renovation project of Boreham Library. Size of the existing space was doubled, new e-services nearly doubled the size of the library’s holdings, and students gained access to a 24-hour study area as well as the Babb Center for Student Professional Development. The library project brought $21 million in economic impact to the state of Arkansas. Keys to this economic investment and impact were a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce and numerous private gifts.

In July 2015 UAFS reached yet another milestone in its journey as a four-year institution. The Higher Learning Commission reaffirmed the university’s accreditation and also approved a change in role and scope, allowing for the launch of the institution’s first master’s program, a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration.

"My lifetime earning potential has seen accelerated growth, not only due to the fact of higher earnings from my degree, but from the network and exposure I gained access to while attending UAFS and post-graduation."

– Jeremy May, Lead Marketing Analyst of Special Projects at ArcBest Corporation



UAFS graduates add annually to the overall human capital and earning power of the Arkansas workforce through their education. Using the number of fall and spring graduates in fiscal 2016, the annual contribution to the Arkansas workforce is estimated to be $270 million.

This increase in lifetime earnings is a permanent, positive change to the economic potential of the state; thus it is essential for the long-term economic health of the region.


"Part of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith’s mission is to be an active contributor to the community’s welfare and well-being by advancing economic development and quality of place. As a public institution of higher education, we will continue to work diligently to grow our level of positive economic impact on the community as we mature as an institution."

– Paul B. Beran, Ph.D. UAFS Chancellor


In a study conducted by the College of Business examining the economic impact of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, it was found that:

• The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith contributes (via direct expenditures and related indirect effects) more than $300 million in economic activity, more than 1,500 jobs, and $64.8 million in household income to the greater Fort Smith region as of fall 2016.

• Operations spending by the university contributed a total of $81 million in output to the regional economy and supported more than 600 jobs in service and other related sectors.

• Capital projects undertaken by the university that included construction of the Windgate Art and Design building and the Recreation and Wellness Center, as well as renovations to the Flanders Business and Math-Science buildings resulted in a total economic impact of $37.5 million in output.

• Annual spending by faculty and staff employed by the university generated almost $87 million in additional economic output and 320 additional jobs to supporting sectors.

• Similar to faculty/staff contributions, annual spending by the 6,704 students enrolled at UAFS in fiscal 2016 contributed almost $95 million in output and just over 350 jobs in supporting sectors.

• Visitors attending university events throughout the year (from outside the greater Fort Smith region) added a total of $580,000 in output to the regional economy.

• All of this economic activity results in an approximate increase of $7.6 million in state and local tax revenues.

This report is the result of an analysis completed by the UAFS College of Business. Primary researcher and author is Dr. Latisha Settlage, professor of economics. Special thanks to the following individuals who were instrumental in providing data for the analysis: Andrew Haught, Stacey Jones and the Season of Entertainment staff, Jason Merritt, and Robert Wilson.