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About the Center

Launched in January 2010, the Center for Business Research and Economic Development (CBRED) studies economic, community, and workforce development in the Fort Smith region. As an outreach and support unit of the College of Business at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, the Center provides information to help regional stakeholders better understand and respond to the factors that affect the health and prosperity of the Fort Smith region.  To this end, the Center will develop, analyze, and report information related to the economic, demographic, and social conditions throughout the five-county Fort Smith Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)[1]. This information will assist in making business decisions, assessing community strengths and weaknesses, evaluating innovation and entrepreneurial activity, weighing development options, and crafting effective policy.


As part of the ongoing collection, analysis, and reporting of regional economic data, the Center will produce two periodic reports on the Fort Smith MSA economy.  These include:


1)  Monthly Economic Indicators Index.  This monthly report provides the Fort Smith area with a summary of economic activity for the period as well as a barometer of future economic activity. This Index includes analysis of key regional variables such as sales (e.g., retail, auto, hotel/motel, etc.), construction (e.g., residential permits, home sales, prices, etc.), employment (e.g., wages, salaries, unemployment rate, hiring intentions, etc.), and related indicators that assist area leaders in tracking and forecasting changing patterns in the local economy.


2)  Fort Smith Regional Economic Outlook Report. This quarterly report provides insight into consumer attitudes and buying intentions in the Fort Smith area through analysis of the Consumer Confidence Survey and Index.  The report also summarizes economic performance for the period, providing an overview of the major trends and issues affecting the Fort Smith area economy going forward. 


In addition to the above regular reports and as resources permit, the Center intends to conduct regional research in cooperation with other community partners.  Typical of these would be projects focused on specific segments of our economy and community, such as local attitudes toward change, workforce readiness, innovation, state of small or family business, and sector specific reports in areas of manufacturing, transportation, etc.   Additionally, CBRED will support statewide initiatives that promote economic development in our region and the State of Arkansas. 


Finally, a number of activities of the Center may be offered on a per-fee basis.  Typical examples of the kind of services possible include:


• Economic Impact Analyses
• Economic Briefs
• Analyses for Strategic Planning
• Industry Cluster Analysis
• Customized Research and Analysis
• Feasibility Studies
• Population and Employment Forecasts
• Market Area Studies
• Surveys


[1] The Fort Smith MSA includes the counties of Sebastian, Crawford, Franklin in Arkansas and Sequoyah and Le Flore in Oklahoma.