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With Room to Grow, Heartland States Lag Behind Coastal States in the Innovation Economy

July 31, 2018
Minnesota Top-Ranked Heartland State; Arkansas Most In Need of Investment

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – With innovation as a linchpin to growth in today’s economy, the Walton Family Foundation released new rankings of the Heartland states participation and preparedness in the innovation economy. Of the 19 Heartland States, Minnesota ranked highest in the measurement, whereas Arkansas ranked last.

“Innovation is the connective tissue needed to economically compete and thrive at the local and state levels,” said Ross DeVol, lead researcher and a Fellow at the Walton Family Foundation. “Our research shows that technology and innovation is absolutely necessary for communities to thrive and have outlined strengths and weaknesses as well as mapped out ways to close the economic gap between the Heartland and the coastal states. Investing more in science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations and creating more post-secondary graduates are critical policy areas.”

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DeVol’s recent research defined the New American Heartland based on the four U.S. Census Bureaus regions and includes the East North Central (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin); West North Central (Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota); East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi); and West South Central (Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana).

DeVol’s research is part of a one-year tenure at the foundation, where he will assess opportunities for regional innovation ecosystems that foster job creation, wage gains and economic growth for Middle America residents. Learn more about DeVol here.

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.