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Walton Family Foundation: “Small-Town America Has Big-Time Potential for Economic Growth”

February 20, 2019

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - The Walton Family Foundation released new research today that ranks micropolitan areas across the United States, creating a data-driven index to measure economic performance across America’s small towns across the Heartland and beyond. Read the research here.

“The research concludes that small-town America has big-time potential for economic growth, which will help boost the nation’s economy and has the potential to bridge the economic gaps between the United States’ micropolitan and metropolitan areas,” said Ross DeVol, the lead researcher and a Walton Fellow at the Walton Family Foundation.

Micropolitan areas comprise of localities with a population between 10,000 and 50,000 in population. Each micropolitan area is ranked and reviewed on performance-based metrics, such as job growth, income gains, and proportion of total jobs at young firms. This is the first time that such research has been undertaken in both scale and scope.

Pecos, Texas ranked as the top micropolitan area in the United States with Zapata, Texas ranking last of the 531 micropolitan areas in the United States. To review the research, click here.

The research found that those micropolitans with strong economic performance shared key traits, such as: travel, tourism and recreation; professional services; culture of entrepreneurship and gas exploration; and research universities and four-year colleges.

About the Walton Fellows Program
The Walton Fellows Program is term-limited, with up to one year in residence. Fellows are responsible for internal and external thought leadership and will conduct research and/or build/improve processes on behalf of the programs of the foundation. This program will shift to a new organization, Heartland Forward, a think and do tank whose mission is to improve economic performance in the center of the United States by advocating fact-based solutions to foster job creation, knowledge-based and inclusion growth and improved health status. Heartland Forward will pursue its mission through independent, data-driven research, action-oriented convenings, such as the Heartland Summit, and impactful policy recommendations.

About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2017, the foundation awarded more than $535 million in grants in support of these initiatives.