Community Leadership Visit 2022 – Northwest Arkansas
Why Northwest Arkansas?
In 2022, the Chamber is leading our 28th Community Leadership Visit to Northwest Arkansas. Past trips have been successful catalysts for some of the Springfield region's most exciting community and economic development projects.
This year's program will be no different. This trip will provide the unique experience of visiting a thriving region, not just one city. This trip will give participants the opportunity to learn about regional collaboration, brand identity around natural assets, talent attraction and retention, the value of long-range regional planning and much more. The many parallels between Springfield and our neighbors to the south will provide valuable takeaways that will lead to future opportunities for community.
"Northwest Arkansas is leaning into who they have decided they want to be, and those efforts are paying off. We hope that this visit will shed new light on how to make that vision a reality in and around Springfield."
-John Oke-Thomas, Oke-Thomas + Associates | Chairman, Springfield Chamber Board of Directors
Attendees will have the opportunity to dine at a local restaurant for their Tuesday night small-group dinner. Click on each of the restaurant options below to check out what they have to offer!
- Oven & Tap
- Oven & Tap, named for its custom built wood fired oven & tap wall, is located just off the downtown Bentonville square. The simple and delicious dishes are inspired by southern fare & hints of Italian flair. Oven & Tap’s kitchen crafts each menu item from scratch using house recipes & quality ingredients (sourced locally whenever possible).
- Table Mesa
- Modern Latin cuisine with a blend centered in the heart of Bentonville’s historic downtown. Our multicultural offerings feature seasonal ingredients with broad apppeal.
- Tavola Trattoria
- From the owners of Table Mesa Bistro comes a casual Italian Trattoria "Tavola". Food is from the heart, so whether you are Italian or just have the passion for its cuisine, you will find our own soul satisfying riffs on Italian and Mediterranean cooking at Tavola.
- Blake Street Social House
- Executive Chef Arturo Solis' menus are centered around the current season. They are crafted not only to nourish the body, but also the mind. Local, peak-of-the-season ingredients are used to ensure we are protecting the land and its stewards for generations to come.
- The Hive
- Located in Bentonville’s award-winning 21c Museum Hotel, The Hive showcases the unique culinary identity of Arkansas. The restaurant’s menus showcase the unique culinary identity of Arkansas and the region’s farmers and producers. Our dishes pay homage to the High South, highlighting ingredients such as black walnuts, freshly milled corn meal, hickory smoked hams, peaches, melons and sweet onions.
- The Preacher's Son
- Led by Executive Chef Neal Gray, The Preacher’s Son offers unique and sustainably-sourced dinner service in a thoughtfully-restored historic church just steps from the Bentonville City Square. With an extensive wine list and incredible service, The Preacher’s Son is the perfect setting to celebrate life’s moments - both big and small - and the seasonality of Northwest Arkansas’s finest ingredients.
- Led by Chef Matthew Cooper, the CONIFER menu will change seasonally and even hyper seasonally, Our relationships with local farmers and businesses play a big part in helping make this happen. Expect regional style cooking with unique elements of the environment of the northwest: fresh fish, gluten free fresh bread baked to order as well as vegetable dishes that will be part of the heart and soul of the restaurant. We are committed to source our products from companies who understand the importance of where their products come from. This allows us to cater to dietary restrictions and to do the very best we can for our community. CONIFER is 100% gluten free. Our CONIFER menu.
During Monday afternoon's "Community Immersion" experience, you'll have the opportunity to choose one of a number of offerings. We're partnering with the team at 37 North Expeditions on several of the offerings to offer a wide range of outdoor experiences; their team will provide the needed equipment and guides for the perfect afternoon in Northwest Arkansas!
In addition, you could also select an indoor experience, including meeting with your counterpart or choosing to explore on your own.
- Lake Osage Kayaking (37 North Expeditions)
- The perfect weekend outing! Join us for a fun day kayaking at Osage Park. We will explore this amazing wetlands site by boat for an hour or so hugging the shores as we look for the fall wildlife that calls this wetlands home. Fish and many species of birds will be seen this time of year. This activity is extremely beginner friendly and we will paddle at a very leisurely pace! After our time on the water we will walk our way through the amazing Osage park trails and finish the excursion with social time.
- Greenway Bike Culture Tour (37 North Expeditions)
- Come join the team at 37 North Expeditions for a private bike expedition around Downtown Bentonville, AR. Guides from 37 North will outfit each guest with a bike and helmet and lead the group on a simple greenway excursion. 37 North guides will navigate the group by key biking destinations and cultural hubs in Bentonville, including the Coler Bike Preserve, the 8th Street Market, the Razorback Regional Greenway, the Momentary, and more. We will end our ride in Downtown Bentonville and enjoy some local brews. The pace of the ride will be social and leisurely with no one being left behind. We will stop often to talk as a group! This activity will accommodate both e-bike and greenway bike options.
- Slaughter Pen Mountain Biking (37 North Expeditions)
- We will start on the All American trail right from Downtown Bentonville. All American trail is one of the most desired trails in the entire country and winds (in epic fashion) through the heart of the cultural sites in town. We will wind on and off the iconic Razorback Greenway as it serves as a spine for the soft surface trails to connect to one another. This amazing soft surface trail will leave you wanting more and show how Bentonville truly is the MTB Capital of the World with incredible trails front and center in the community. All rides will be on grade-rated trails, so while beginner mountain bikers are welcome, some biking experience is preferable. Afterwards we will experience some social time with the group!
- Nature Walk at Coler Mountain Bike Preserve (37 North Expeditions)
- We will walk on the paved greenway (and explore some of the adjacent soft surface trails) through Coler MTB Preserve. Coler is the only MTB specific nature preserve in the world and is home to one of the only bike/walk-in only coffee shops. After a simple stroll to see the sights and sounds of Coler we will stop for a coffee break at Airship - a walk in only coffee shop that may be the 8th wonder of the world! This place will heal your soul and connect you to nature like never before.
- Osage Park Wetlands Walk (37 North Expeditions)
- Osage Park is an urban park designed as the recreational destination location in Bentonville, Arkansas. Its preserved and enhanced wetland system acts as a 'soft infrastructure' that soaks up and filters stormwater; slowly releasing it, decreasing flooding downstream, and improving water quality. We will walk roughly two miles around the amazing boardwalk trails at Osage Park to explore this incredibly unique wetlands habitat. This will will be at a leisurely pace and include time to stop and look for wildlife and at unique features of the wetlands area. This eco system is full of life and such a unique treasure in the heart of Bentonville. We will end this walk with quality social time at a local Bentonville attraction!
- Archery at The Quiver - Join fellow participants at The Quiver Archery Range, located within Bentonville's Osage Park, to enjoy the 70-meter outdoor range with 20 archery lanes. Their certified archery instructors will provide you individual instruction on what equipment to use and how to aim for success. Wrap up with some fun social time with your fellow Springfieldians!
- Downtown Bentonville Tour - Join former Bentonville Chamber of Commerce President Graham Cobb on an insightful and exciting walking tour of Downtown Bentonville. Experience all the natural assets and amenities, incorporation of trails, community support, and invigorating investment and growth Bentonville has to offer in its urban core.
- Meet With Your Counterpart - Use this time to meet with your counterpart in the Northwest Arkansas region! Please note, you will be responsible for communicating with your counterpart and scheduling this meeting.
- Free Time on Your Own - Explore the wonderful amenities and offerings of the region on your own!
This Community Leadership will offer the unique opportunity to visit several venues throughout the region. Click on the links below for a preview of where we will be spending our three days!
- 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville- Located on the northeast corner of the Bentonville town square and a short walk to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville is a 104-room boutique hotel, contemporary art museum, cultural center, and home to The Hive restaurant. Stay with us and the iconic Green Penguin.
- Record Downtown - The former Benton County Daily Record Building and a mid-20th century car dealership, Record, offers the elevated charm of industrial details like wooden barrel ceilings, old paint, a cement floor and garage doors located in beautiful downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.
- Thaden Fieldhouse - A jumping off point for adventure, the portal to backcountry, a basecamp: Thaden Field, ICAO Identifier (VBT), is the hub of Arkansas’ FLY OZ network, Summit Aviation’s fix base operation, home of Game Composites, and OZ1 flying club’s “hideout”. The new FIELDHOUSE shelters a flight school, an exhibition hangar, an FAA knowledge testing center, scenic flights, discovery flights, lawn games, fuel, provisions, and a full service, all day menu at cafe LOUISE. This spring you’ll be able to rent a canoe and paddle out on Lake Bentonville.
- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art - Founded by philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges is a public non-profit charitable organization. The museum opened on November 11, 2011, and welcomes all with free admission. Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant (Eleven) and Coffee Bar on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, a Museum Store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. Five miles of sculpture and walking trails link the museum’s 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. View a map of the venue here!
- Skylight Cinema - Skylight Cinema is an innovative movie, entertainment and dining destination, with its flagship location in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. The theater exhibits first-run movies from major and independent studios, and will also offer a variety of special screenings throughout the year, including sporting events, classic films and other cultural experiences. All six of the theater’s auditoria feature state-of-the-art digital projection technology and sound, reserved seating and comfortable rocker or recliner seats.
- University of Arkansas - SEC Club - The spacious SEC Club can be used for a wide variety of events. Your guests can enjoy the view from the outdoor patio overlooking the field or relive memorable Razorback victories against conference opponents inside the club.
- Fayetteville Public Library - The original Blair building opened in 2004. It now houses the reference collection, adult fiction and nonfiction, genealogy, DVDs and CDs, and meeting and study spaces. Due to the incredible growth of the Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas region, FPL underwent a large expansion project that was completed in January 2021 that doubled its size to 190,000 square feet The expansion includes the addition of an expanded youth department, the Teaching Kitchen, Center for Innovation, Event Center, Art & Movement Room, and much more. The FPL Event Center is over 8,700 square feet, allowing the library to host community events on a larger scale than was previously possible.
- Heroncrest - After years of searching for the perfect location to settle down and realize their dreams, Robert T. Murphy III and Beau Garland Reynolds stumbled upon their diamond in the rough: 20 beautiful, lake-side acres in Elm Springs. Four years, and a lot of sweat equity, later they are ready to share their vision for Elmdale Estate and its first new structure: Heroncrest. Throughout Heroncrest’s three years of design and development, every aspect of the project has been thoughtfully considered with constant feedback from engineers, acoustic consultants, architects, interior designers, lighting experts, environmental specialists, caterers, and event experts.
On the afternoon of day two, attendees will have the option to choose between enjoying various regional amenities. This includes a tour of Downtown Rogers, a tour of Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food and Bentonville’s 8th Street Market, and a self-guided tour of the Momentary. More information about each option is listed below:
Downtown Rogers: Significant investment has been made in Downtown Rogers to revitalize the area and enhance community interaction, drive economic activity and strengthen the urban core. These efforts have grown Downtown Rogers into a true destination for locals and visitors. This area is made for exploring, and includes rich history quaint local businesses, art galleries, boutiques, the Railyard Entertainment District, and of course, Onyx Coffee! This experience will include a brief overview from community leaders and small-group tours of the Downtown area.
Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food and Bentonville's 8th Street Market: 8th Street Market is a community-focused food hub, where a spirit of creativity meets entrepreneurship, growing a group of tenants that serve one another as well as the community. 8th Street Market is a key component of the ever-expanding downtown Bentonville experience, located in heart of the Market District. Here, gatherings are grounded in a commitment to community, a shared love of food and drink, and the belief that together, we can all become better. This option will feature a tour of the Brightwater Culinary School with Executive Director Marshall Shafkowitz. The market features several local merchants.
The Momentary: Located in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Momentary is decommissioned cheese factory turned contemporary art space for visual and performing arts, culinary experiences, festivals, artists-in-residence, and more. From exploring the galleries and outdoor artworks, to enjoying a savory bite or refreshing drink, there’s something for everyone to discover.
- From PRNewswire - Bentonville, Arkansas, Leaders Stake Claim as Mountain Biking Capital of the World
- From PeopleForBikes - The Secret Behind Bentonville's Success
- From Fayetteville Flyer - Fayetteville again recognized as a Walk Friendly Community
- From KNWA Fox 24 - Bikeable office building under construction in Downtown Bentonville
- From Mountain Bike Action - Bentonville named top place to ride mountain bikes around the world
- From CNBC - Why this tech entrepreneur left the Bay Area for Arkansas and closed his offices for good
- From Northwest Arkansas Council - 412 Angel Network Launches to Educate New Investors, Fuel Tech Growth Across Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas
- From Sightline Institute - A simple, radical idea paves way for Fayetteville entrepreneurs
- From the University of Arkansas - U of A Business Incubator Helps Northwest Arkansas Transplants Launch Startup
- From AXIOS NW Arkansas - Eclectic NWA startups get accelerator boost
- From AXIOS NW Arkansas - Startup known for period kits moves to NW Arkansas
- From AXIOS NW Arkansas - 4 innovative education programs in NW Arkansas
- From Walton Family Foundation - Upskilling Program Lifts Working Adults into Higher-Paying Jobs in Northwest Arkansas
- From Walton Family Foundation - Cutting a New Pattern for Northwest Arkansas' Fashion Economy\
- From Northwest Arkansas Council - Apprenticeships Opening Doors for Local Workforce
- From Arkansas Democrat Gazette - Bentonville School District officials reveal Ignite expansion plans
- From Arkansas Democrat Gazette - Northwest Arkansas high schools top U.S. News state ranking for 2022
- From Talk Business & Politics - NWA programs ramp up to address technology talent gap
Quality of Life/Arts & Culture
- From Finding NWA - 7 Reasons Northwest Arkansas is a Nationally Recognized "Best Place to Live"
- From CBS News - Crystal Bridges Museum, And a Town's Resurgence
- From Northwest Arkansas Council - Northwest Arkansas Ranks Among Country's Top Metros
- From Springdale Chamber of Commerce - Region Named 7th Best Place to Live
- From Northwest Arkansas Council - Rising Housing Costs a Key Concern of 2021 State of the NWA Region Report
- From Bloomberg - Fayetteville Highlighted as Remote Working Destination - Bloomberg Opinion
- From Variety - Meg Ryan to direct, star with David Duchovny in Rom-Com produced in Bentonville
- From Billboard - Lollapalooza producer to partner on new music-art-tech festival in NW Arkansas
- From Restaurant Hospitality - Is Bentonville the next great restaurant town?
- From AAA Magazines - Why mountain bikers, art lovers, and foodies are visiting Bentonville, Arkansas
- About the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine
- From Talk Business & Politics - Alice L. Walton Foundation, Washington Regional partner on new healthcare system
- From Talk Business & Politics - Bentonville medical school site revealed; new name is Alice L. Walton School of Medicine
- From Talk Business & Politics - Heartland Forward releases report on healthcare workforce
- From Arkansas Democrat Gazette - Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas says $500M expansion to bring cancer center, thousands of new jobs
- From Talk Business & Politics - With expansion in mind, J.B. Hunt pays $10 million for office park near Lowell headquarters
- From Talk Business & Politics - Walton: NWA poised to be 'hub' for advanced air mobility technologies
- From Northwest Arkansas Council - Bella-Vista Bypass (Missouri-Arkansas Connector)
- From the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association - NW Arkansas Recently Hosted the UP Summit dubbed the "Davos of Mobility"
- From Northwest Arkansas Council - Arkansas Stakes Claim to be Global Leader in Next Generation Transportation by 2030
- From Northwest Arkansas & River Valley News KNWA and FOX24 - See flying cars, jet packs and more at Thaden Field
- From University of Arkansas - Grant to Development Roadmap for Smart Mobility Initiatives
Opportunities for Improvement
- From Talk Business & Politics - NWA Council says region at 'critical inflection point', puts forth new strategic plan
- From Talk Business & Politics - NWA home prices increase more than 25% in the past year
- From Talk Business & Politics - Leaders provide views on diversity in Northwest Arkansas
- From AXIOS NW Arkansas - Arkansas ranks low for business climate
- Northwest Arkansas Council
- Runway Group
- Walton Family Foundation
- Finding NWA
- Oz Trails - Northwest Arkansas
- Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program (GORP)
- Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange (CACHE)
- Siloam Springs