Arkansas fastest growing cities
These cities grew by at least 50% between the 2010 and 2020 U.S. Census and had a population of at least 1,000 in 2020:
Cave Springs (Benton County): 217.8%
Brookland (Craighead): 147.5%
Southside (Independence): 100%*
Goshen (Washington): 96.3%
Centerton (Benton): 87%
Austin (Lonoke) 69.8%
Tontitown (Washington): 63%
Prairie Grove (Washington): 60.8%
Elm Springs (Washington): 53.8%
Bentonville (Benton): 53.4%
Gravette (Benton): 52.6%
* Southside was incorporated as a city in 2014
Source: State Geographic Information Systems Office
Arkansas’ population shift toward the northwest shows up in U.S. census data and in decisions based on that data such as the distribution of state legislative seats.
Census results also reveal a precise location showing the shift: the state’s “historic center of population” — the place where an imaginary, flat map of Arkansas would balance perfectly if each state resident stood on it in his or her home location.
The center never went west of Perry County or farther north than Mayflower in Faulkner County for 100 years between 1880 and 1980, state calculations show. The state determines those centers after each decennial census.
The balancing point in Arkansas now lies north of Morrilton at Lake Overcup in Conway County, the state’s Geographic Information Service Office calculated Dec. 17 based on 2020 census numbers. The latest center continues a steady northwestern trajectory for every census since 1980.
“Before long if lawmakers in the urban centers of Northwest Arkansas and central Arkansas agree on something, they will get it through the Legislature,” said Bill Stovall, who was speaker of the Arkansas House in 2005 and 2006. The concentration of representation in those urban areas plus northeastern Arkansas will become too great for the rest of the state to offset, he said.
“If they can make a political alliance, they can set tax and revenue policy,” he said.
The partisan divide between Republicans in Northwest Arkansas and a Pulaski County delegation in central Arkansas that is still largely Democrats will make little difference, Stovall predicted.
“The political divide in the state is going to be less of a Republican-Democrat divide than an urban-rural one,” he said.
The state has 23 Democrats left in the 100-member House and parts of central Arkansas are trending Republican, he said. Stovall was a Democrat during his four terms in the House.
Thirteen members of the 100-member House live in either Washington or Benton County. New district maps approved Nov. 29 will increase that number to 17. Legislative districts are redrawn after each census to equalize their populations.
Pulaski County, the state’s most populous and home county to Little Rock, the state’s capital and largest city, will have 13 House members. Neighboring Faulkner County will have six. Any measure in which delegations from those counties agree would need 15 votes out of the remaining 64 House members to pass that chamber. Another …….