Arkansas Stakes Claim to be a Global Leader in Next Gen Transportation by 2030


Corporations, private investment, and government commitment stake claim in a trillion-dollar industry and strive to create The Jetsons-like paradise …and more 

Bentonville, Ark. (Feb. 23, 2022) – When you finally get your flying car, driverless vehicle, and your drone delivery of groceries or supplies, chances are Arkansas will have been a part of the process at some point in the near future.

Arkansas entrepreneurs are making a bold claim to be a global giant in next generation transportation, including flying cars, driverless vehicles, and drones. This claim follows Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s recent announcement to create the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility, an advisory board committed to attracting businesses, startups, innovators, and creators.

“This year the nation celebrates the 60th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s audacious declaration that America would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and we succeeded. Our goal is based on that same spirit of innovation, tenacity, and entrepreneurship that existed in 1962—we just happen to believe that it’s Arkansas’ turn to lead on that kind of effort,” said Cyrus Sigari, chairman of the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility and UP.Partners Managing Partner. “The state is in an ideal geographic location. It’s the headquarters to powerhouse companies in supply chain, logistics and retail insights. And the support from the state government to incentivize businesses and pioneers in this space makes this claim more than achievable.”

Last fall, Governor Hutchinson forged key global partnerships that will help position Arkansas as a hub for these technologies across a variety of sectors, such as defense.

“Arkansas has been a leader in transportation and mobility for decades. Today we’re continuing to build on that legacy with the Arkansas Council on Future Mobility,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “I recently traveled to Israel to speak of the work we’ve done in Arkansas with legislation passed in 2019 to allow the piloting of autonomous vehicles and the success we’ve seen thus far. Our storied history with the defense sector will also continue to grow in this new and emerging field of technology. The Natural State has the opportunity to become a hub for the future of mobility, and Arkansans are ready to take this challenge head on.”

One rapidly evolving transportation modality is Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), which uses revolutionary aircraft to move cargo and people more quickly, safely, and sustainably. The future of AAM will address current supply chain and labor shortage challenges seen across the nation. The trillion-dollar future AAM market will greatly increase the availability of jobs in STEM with over 4,000 new jobs in the state by 2045 and is estimated to create $3.6 billion in new economic activity and related stimulus. Agriculture, healthcare, defense, consumer goods and other sectors will be the beneficiaries of this initiative.

According to a privately commissioned NEXA Capital Partners report soon to be released, the inclusion of a world-class original equipment manufacturer (OEM) center for development and manufacturing would add some 7,000 full-time jobs to Arkansas’ base case and create up to $9.9 billion in additional economic activity. This addition would grow Arkansas’ existing aerospace sector by as much as 25%.

“The commercial and defense industry impacts of AAM cannot be ignored and the market is pushing for thoughtful and rapid deployment,” said Chad Causey, Executive Director, Arkansas Aerospace & Defense Alliance (AADA).  “With a highly skilled aerospace and defense workforce and a burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit, Arkansas can and will capitalize on this future growth. AAM is a natural fit for the Natural State. Arkansas’ aerospace and defense industries appreciates Governor Hutchinson’s leadership on this issue.”

The industry is already taking hold with Arkansas’ leading companies. Last year, Walmart took to the skies when the retailer announced it would operationalize drone delivery in four stores in Northwest Arkansas in collaboration with Zipline and DroneUp. Today, the retailer has successfully completed hundreds of drone deliveries to select customers in Northwest Arkansas and plans to expand operations in the future.

Another example of transportation progress in Arkansas is autonomous trucking. Walmart and autonomous vehicle company, Gatik, pioneered the use of autonomous refrigerated box trucks in retail operations. Together, the companies have driven more than 200,000 autonomous miles in the state and achieved a worldwide first last year when they removed the safety operator from the driver’s seat.

Electric vehicle technology company Canoo recently announced that it has selected Arkansas as the location for its headquarters, R&D center, and production facility. Canoo will be manufacturing small package delivery vehicles and is expecting to bring 545 high paying jobs to Benton and Washington counties.

“We’re excited to experience the benefits of next generation transportation including its convenience, cost-savings and sustainable impact on communities. Our collaboration with both private and public sectors has not only helped us pioneer the use of autonomous vehicles and drones in the state of Arkansas, but in the retail industry as a whole, and it’s only just the beginning,” said John Furner, President and CEO, Walmart U.S.

J.B. Hunt Transport, one of the largest transportation and logistics companies in North America, has long been interested in the role that emerging transportation technologies will play in the future of the industry.

“We’re proud to be among the many people and organizations who envision a future where Arkansas leads the way in testing and implementing next-generation transportation technology,” said Craig Harper, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president at J.B. Hunt. “Collaboration between the public and private sectors will be critical to understanding how electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and other emerging technologies are implemented. Beyond that, it displays a collective desire and commitment to finding long-term solutions that will impact the transportation industry and ultimately the motoring public.”

With the creation of more jobs available in relevant fields such as electrical and aerospace engineering, manufacturing and IT, student and employee retention are anticipated to increase.

“The University of Arkansas is excited to see this interest and investment in this important growth area,” Dr. Alan Mantooth, University of Arkansas distinguished professor of electrical engineering, said. “As the only institution with a silicon carbide (SiC) research and fabrication facility, and very high research activity, the U of A is uniquely positioned to support this effort with the ability to produce world-class applied research and innovations in power electronics, energy systems, logistics and supply chain, and cybersecurity. The University of Arkansas is proud to be a part of this effort to support the State’s emerging smart mobility sector, providing research, technologies and well-prepared workforce.”

Furthermore, Runway Group has made a multi-million-dollar investment in this initiative. These investments will spark local economic vitality, leading to vibrant and dynamic communities across the state. Arkansas is well-positioned to become a hub for advanced mobility business clusters. The mobility market is expected to attract young startup companies and provide them with tools to prototype, test and scale new technologies and ultimately support their success.

For Arkansas residents, the investment in the future of transportation will bridge the urban-rural divide, allowing for greater connectivity and accessibility across the state. New opportunities will emerge for healthcare, medical suppliers and first responders support by allowing providers to bring medications and supplies to the patient, rather than move the patient to the medicine.

“This effort exemplifies the bold ideas and collaboration transforming Arkansas into a hub for innovation,” said Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council. “As more companies choose Arkansas as the home base for their cutting-edge technologies, these investments will revolutionize our workforce, create jobs and shape an innovative culture that propels the local economy forward.”

Opportunities for applications of mobility technologies will be available across a variety of industries, such as agriculture and timber, infrastructure inspections and tourism. The next-gen technology is also expected to reduce Arkansas’ carbon footprint. By providing cleaner air and quieter streets, The Natural State will benefit from a strong and healthy environment.

Arkansas’ commitment to advancing transportation and logistics has garnered support from organizations across the state, including the State of Arkansas, UP.Partners, Runway Group, Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance, J.B. Hunt, Walmart, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, the University of Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas Council, FedEx, and Entergy. For more information on the Governor’s announcement and the potential social, health, and economic benefits that mobility provides, please visit


About Runway Group

Runway Group is a holding company in Bentonville, Ark. with a commitment to moving Northwest Arkansas forward. Steuart and Tom Walton started the Runway mission more than a decade ago to sustainably develop and transform the Northwest Arkansas region into a dynamic “lifestyle” metropolitan area. Runway’s areas of focus include property development and management, outdoor and recreation investment, hospitality, and new ventures and investments. 

About UP.Partners 

Transportation is the underlying fabric of society. UP.Partners invests in the pioneering entrepreneurs who are creating the key enabling technologies that help move people and goods cleaner, faster, safer, and more efficiently in a multi-dimensional world. UP.Partners with some of the world’s most innovative investors and companies including Alaska Airlines, ARK Invest, and Woven Capital, the investment arm of Toyota subsidiary Woven Planet Group. UP.Summit convenes the mobility community’s brightest minds each year to help humanity go UP. Together, the UP community is transforming the moving world. For more information, visit UP.Partners or follow on Twitter @UpPartnersVC or LinkedIn.


  • By 2030, Arkansas strives to be the global leader in the future of transportation for next-gen tech.
  • The next-gen technology is to include drone delivery, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, micro-mobility, flying cars and driverless vehicles.
  • Government resources along with rallying private investments are pushing this initiative forward.
  • The trillion-dollar future advanced air mobility (AAM) market will bring over 4,000 new jobs to the state by 2045.
  • AAM is estimated to create $3.6 billion in new economic activity and related stimulus.
  • Attracting an AAM OEM center for development and manufacturing adds over 7,000 full-time jobs to Arkansas’ base case, creates an additional $9.9 billion in economic activity and adds approximately 25% to Arkansas’s existing aerospace sector.
  • Arkansas’s top export product is civilian aircraft, engines and parts, which made up almost 20% of the state’s total exports in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • The University expects an increase in student and talent retention in Arkansas.
  • Opportunities for mobility technology applications will be available across a variety of industries, such as agriculture and timber, infrastructure inspections and tourism.
  • Arkansas’s commitment to advancing transportation and logistics has garnered support from organizations across the state, including the State of Arkansas, UP.Partners, Runway Group, Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance, J.B. Hunt, Walmart, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, the University of Arkansas, NWA Council and Entergy.

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  • University of Arkansas & NWA Council Partner to Support Small Businesses and Non-Profits

    The University of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Northwest Arkansas Council are partnering on a Small Business Emergency Assistance program – an effort to support small businesses and nonprofits in the region impacted by the coronavirus. The program website is available here. “Given the current COVID-19…Read More

  • When this is over, Northwest Arkansas will be Ready for You

     Backcountry aviation is part of the magic Northwest Arkansas and the Ozarks have to offer. New adventure awaits.

  • Heartland Forward: Coronavirus Regional Economic Impacts and Policy Responses

    Heartland Forward analyzed the economic effects of the coronavirus on the Heartland & beyond. Initial indicators suggest the Heartland may be less hard-hit than other parts of the country. Full report here.

  • Online Resources for COVID-19 Information and Services in Northwest Arkansas

    Here is a list of important resources in our Northwest Arkansas communities. We will continue to update this list as we get more information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Latest CDC Updates on COVID-19 Arkansas Department of Health Community Clinic announced it will open four testing and treatment…Read More

  • Millennials Find New Hope In The Heartland

    Today Heartland Forward released new research, “Millennials Find New Hope In The Heartland,” analyzing demographic trends in the center of the country. The research, led by Senior Fellow Joel Kotkin, finds the Heartland is attracting and retaining millennials at higher rates than in the past. Read MORE.

  • Global cycling brand Rapha moving North American HQ to Bentonville

    Northwest Arkansas’ growing reputation as a hub for cycling and mountain biking is adding a feather in its cap. London-based cycling company Rapha is moving its North American headquarters from Portland, Ore., to Bentonville. “Over the next few years the Rapha brand will evolve into new markets and we need…Read More

  • The Momentary: Top Museums to Look Forward to in 2020

    “Next on our list of top new museums is this contemporary art satellite space in Bentonville, affiliated with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The Momentary will officially open on 22 February 2020.” Read MORE.

  • An Arkansas Escape

    “Bentonville is definitely the place to go in Arkansas for an overnight trip or multiple days. It is perfect for a weekend getaway or weeklong excursion. With a state like ours, it is so much more convenient to take your vacation right here at home.” Read MORE at AY Magazine.

  • Lessons on How to Create a Cycling Culture in Northwest Arkansas

    Cycling has become a way of life in the Netherlands because it is easy, fast, fun, convenient and safe. Can the same things be said of cycling in Northwest Arkansas? Read MORE.

  • League of American Bicyclists Honors Runway Group with Platinum Status

    The League of American Bicyclists honored 103 organizations with new Bicycle Friendly Business awards and renewed or upgraded 50 others. Runway Group is honored to have been upgraded to “Platinum” status. This round of Bicycle Friendly Businesses also shows how communities are rallying around bicycling being good for businesses. Places…Read More

  • Rapha and EF Pro Cycling continue partnership in 2020

    Rapha announced a renewed partnership with EF Pro Cycling for 2020, not only making the team’s eye-popping pink and blue kit for the season but also highlighting some of the riders’ forays into the ‘alternative calendar’ in a series of videos dubbed “Alt Cal”. The company aims to highlight unique…Read More

  • The Momentary, Enhancing Bentonville’s Quality of Life

    The Momentary will continue Northwest Arkansas’s cultural journey through art, music, and food that unites the hobbies and interests of community members from various backgrounds and experiences. The artists and performers featured at the Momentary will also reflect the diverse complexity of the community and the nation. Read MORE.

  • Bentonville, Arkansas is Disneyland for Mountain Bikers

    Outside Magazine’s New York City–based bike columnist visited America’s most up-and-coming cycling destination and found it well deserving of the hype. Read MORE.

  • Bentonville, Arkansas Is Disneyland for Mountain Bikers

    bike town bentonville h

    Everybody’s heard of places like Crested Butte, Moab, and Park City in the context of mountain-bike fantasylands, but increasingly, Bentonville, Arkansas, is emerging as a riding destination.

  • Bentonville-Based Airport Awarded Southwest Region Airport of the Year

    The Bentonville-based airport Louise M. Thaden Field has been awarded “Southwest Region Airport of the Year” by the Federal Aviation Administration. This award recognizes the airport for hard work and commitment toward safer runways, reducing back taxing and accommodating additional aircraft of all sorts. Read MORE.

  • Cycling’s Low-Key Wizards of Oz

    Walmart heirs Steuart and Tom Walton want to make Arkansas one of the world’s greatest cycling destinations. That’s just part of their plan. Read MORE.

  • NW Arkansas Closing in on Top 100, Census Shows

    Just four larger metropolitan areas in the U.S. are growing at a faster rate than Northwest Arkansas. The region’s 18.6 percent growth since the 2010 Census is one of the most telling statistics about the Fayetteville- Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan area. Read MORE.

  • Something Big is Coming to Downtown Springdale

    I think we can all agree that Downtown Springdale is having a moment, from a food/drink perspective.   Read MORE.

  • FAA awards Production Certificate for Gamebird

    Aircraft manufacturer Game Composites has received its Production Certificate from the FAA for the GB1 Gamebird. This marks the first time in 23 years a Production Certificate has been awarded to a general aviation manufacturer. The Production Certificate marks the last of many milestones for Game Composites in the journey…Read More

  • Thaden Field House Aims To Attract More Business To The Bentonville Municipal Airport

    Thaden Field

    From Drake Field to Springdale, local airports compete for local flights. And with Bentonville being a business hub and one of the busiest non-towered airports in Arkansas, the city’s municipal airport is trying to attract even more business.

  • Bentonville’s Thaden Field to become ‘destination airport’

    FOCUS BentonvilleAirport

    After 72 years of operation, city leaders and the aviation community have a new vision for Bentonville’s municipal airport, Louise M. Thaden Field, to become a destination airport for aviators and an added amenity for locals and tourists. Read MORE.