Welcoming Fayetteville Plan
Northwest Arkansas' foreign-born population has grown significantly in the past several years. As seen in a recent study, in 2014, immigrants made up 25 percent of the total population in Springdale, 19.5 percent in Rogers, 13.5 percent in Bentonville, and 7.4 percent in Fayetteville. Between 2009 and 2014, the foreign-born population of Washington County as a whole grew by 42 percent. At that rate of growth, the foreign-born population in Fayetteville is expected to rise as high as 20% by 2022.
Foreign-born residents of our community contribute to every sector of our economy, and more than 10 percent (as of 2014) were self-employed entrepreneurs. In addition, the international student population is growing as a result of the University of Arkansas' recruitment efforts and we hope to welcome them and their families to stay as potential workforce in our rapidly growing economy.
We realize the value that new Americans bring to our economy: more jobs, more contributions, more businesses, and a well-educated demographic, and the City of Fayetteville is committed to making intentional efforts to integrate and include new Americans.
Working toward that goal, in 2017 the City worked closely with Welcoming America, and other organizations to develop and adopt a Welcoming Fayetteville Plan. The Plan lays out recommendations for strategies for the inclusion and integration of new Americans in our community, so that we can help break down barriers and make everyday life easier for those who are new to our country.
About the Plan
The primary goals for the next five years, as set forth in the Welcoming Fayetteville Plan, are:
- To see an increase in Fayetteville's foreign-born population
- To offer more multilingual materials in City government, local organizations, and from service providers
- To have a diverse demographic participating in local government
- To build strong, trusting relationships between new Americans and local government, community, neighbors, service providers, and public safety departments
- To develop intentional, thoughtful approaches to programs that take into consideration all residents
- For Fayettevillians to be more educated about the value that new Americans and cultural diversity bring to our city
- To foster ongoing conversations between the City and organizations that frequently work with new Americans
- To increase efforts to attract and retain talent, including international students
- To increase access to housing and transportation services.
- Develop a virtual Welcoming Hub for foreign-born Fayetteville residents: a one-stop location where new Americans can find key information about language and citizenship classes, learn more about City government, and connect with service providers to make it easier for them to integrate into the community. COMPLETE
- Establish a bricks-and-mortar Welcoming Hub that will include a part-time "concierge" who can personally assist foreign-born residents in navigating government departments, finding necessary services, and making community connections. IN PROGRESS with potential partners
- Identify key City forms and other documents for translation into other languages, beginning with Spanish. IN PROGRESS