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Bentonville Population Reaches 40,000

by Melissa Gute | January 18, 2014 at 5:00 a.m.

BENTONVILLE — The city’s population has reached 40,000 people, according to projections from city planning officials.

“It’s evidence that we continue to grow; it’s evidence that we’re a community that continues to provide opportunity; we continue to be a community that’s a job creator; we continue to be a community that’s a desirable place to live,” said Troy Galloway, director of community development.

At A Glance

Population Expectations

Bentonville planning officials project the city’s population annually using the most recent census as a baseline. Bentonville will reach 65,000 people in 2030, according to the projections, said Shelli Kerr, planning services manager.

“We’ve been right in line with what our projections have been,” she said. “I don’t think we see any reason at this point to not reach that.”

Source: Staff Report

Planning officials calculate the city’s population projections annually using the certificates of occupancy in residential units and the number of people per household, which is taken from Census data, explained Shelli Kerr, planning services manager. The baseline for the projections is the city’s population from the 2010 Census, which was 35,301.

The city started doing population projections in the late 1990s, Galloway said.

“We’ve tracked pretty closely,” he said. “In the 2010 Census we were off by less than 1,000 folks from our projections to what it actually was.”

Officials have annually mapped where in the city growth has occurred for the last five years. They are working on a map for 2013 now, Kerr said. The maps are based on subdivision preliminary and final plats, she said.

“Southwest is where we see a concentration,” she said.

Downtown Bentonville also is an area people are interested in moving to, but space is limited, Galloway said.

“There’s a lot of redevelopment taking place in the downtown area, but not to the scale of new development that is taking place in the southwest part of the city,” he said. “It’s just a matter of capacity.”

There’s a number of builders and redevelopers working to increase the amount of housing downtown, Galloway said, adding in the next decade there will be a shift in the types of housing offered, which is mostly single residential dwellings now.

The city’s Southeast Downtown Area Plan also calls for a mix of housing types.

The challenge of keeping up with utility and transportation infrastructure comes with continued growth, Galloway said, adding it’s congested roads people notice the most.

“There’s never going to be enough money to build all the roads people want built,” he said. “But with that said, I think the city of Bentonville has done a remarkable job with the money it does have.”

Arkansas 12 is the primary corridor in the southwest region. The city has quickly grown into the historically rural area over the last decade, Galloway said.

The catalysts for growth have changed over the years.

Bentonville had 11,257 people in 1990, according to Galloway. A special census conducted in 1996 showed the city had grown to 15,363 residents.

Galloway attributed that growth directly to Walmart and its national and international success.

“As that company continued to grow, the city continued to grow,” he said.

The city’s population increased another 16,000 people from 19,730 in 2000 to 35,301 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

During that time, there was a local growth driven by the vendor supplier community that catered to Walmart and other Fortune 500 companies, Galloway said.

From 2010 to now and into the immediate future, growth has been and will be a result of quality of life amenities, such as Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and 21c Museum Hotel, and an entrepreneurial spirit that’s been derived from Walmart and the vendor supplier community, Galloway said.

Amazeum, a children’s museum, will break ground this year, and the Bentonville Community Recreation Center also will be constructed.

“The city’s done a lot to encourage people to continue to move here,” he said. “I think this decade that we’re in, the growth that we continue to see is attributable to that entrepreneurial spirit.”

Kerr agreed there has been a growth catalyst shift and Walmart is just one of many key factors.

“Make no mistake, Walmart remains critically important to the equation, but it’s not the single driver anymore,” Galloway added. “There are other drivers that need to be taken into account.”

Marsha Davis moved to Bentonville with her husband, Dana, in March when he took the position of the Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. They moved from the Dallas area.

“I didn’t have any preconceived ideas (about Bentonville) because I had never been to Arkansas,” Marsha Davis said.

Her first impression was made when the couple visited last January for her husband’s job interview.

“I thought it was a charming place,” she said. “I really like the square. The pace seemed slower than the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

Having lived here for nearly a year, Davis said she enjoys the accessibility between Bentonville and neighboring cities, but said there’s more traffic than she realized there would be for a city the size of Bentonville. However, the city has kept the charm she saw on her first visit here.

“It has a great mix of amenities and a small-town charm,” Davis said.

Centerton, Bentonville’s western neighbor, also has had growth and is a place where many who work in Bentonville live.

Centerton had a population of 2,146 in 2000. The population was 9,515 in 2010. The Census bureau estimated, as of July 1, 2012, the population had increased to 10,170.

Brandt Carter, his wife and three children moved from San Antonio to Centerton 16 months ago after Carter received a promotion at the Hershey Co. and was relocated to the Bentonville office.

Colleagues told Carter prior to his move Northwest Arkansas is a wonderful place and great for children, but it didn’t sink in until he and his family experienced it, Carter said.

“It was shocking when we got here,” he said. “It was everything everyone told me it was.”

Bentonville is top-notch in regards to the recreational activities offered and the quality school system it provides, Carter said.

The family looked at homes in Bentonville, Rogers and Centerton and found Centerton to be the right fit.

“The house we found met the needs we were looking for,” Carter said. “We wanted to be kind of out to have more space.”

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