A study commissioned by a Michigan university measured the entrepreneurial strengths of eight U.S. metros including Little Rock.
The study was conducted by Soletics of Grand Rapids, Mich., for Grand Valley State University — an NCAA Division 2 school (and football power) with about 25,000 students, for those of us who reference schools by their athletic affiliations.
The study, Empowering Entrepreneurship, measured the school’s home metro of Grand Rapids against other metropolitan statistical areas of similar size.
GVSU is located just 12 miles west of Grand Rapids in Allendale, almost on the shores of Lake Michigan, and operates a satellite campus in downtown Grand Rapids, a city roughly the size of Little Rock (though its metro is not as big).
The study “benchmarked” the climate for entrepreneurship in Grand Rapids; Little Rock; Tulsa; Huntsville, Ala.; Des Moines; Albany, N.Y.; Louisville; and Greensboro, N.C. , by measuring the following categories: culture, capital, business climate, and talent and know-how. And while Conway is certainly growing its own distinctive entrepreneurial community, it’s included as part of the Little Rock MSA.
Overall, Little Rock was in the middle of the pack in almost all categories. Its strengths — the nation’s second-most diverse economy according to Moody’s and a cost of living 5 percent below the national average. Its weaknesses — below average mean hourly wage and difficulty in attracting talent.
(This is the study talking, people…)
Little Rock fared best in retention of young workers, racial diversity and cost of doing business (where it was second in the group). Again, here’s the full study. Little Rock didn’t lead the group in any category, but neither did it bring up the rear.
While we’re at it, here’s the 2012 Battelle study on Arkansas’ knowledge economy initiatives conducted for the Arkansas Research Alliance.