A Clean Energy Economy for Arkansas: Analysis of the Rural Economic Development Potential of Renewable Resources

Issue Paper
March 10, 2010

With an abundance of wildlife, hot springs, 600,000 acres of lakes, and almost 10,000 miles of rivers and streams, Arkansas is known as “The Natural State.” Rich in natural resources and fertile land, Arkansas has a historically stable and diverse economy. But the global economic downturn is being felt across the state, with 41,000 jobs lost since the middle of 2008, most of them in rural areas. To secure its economic future, Arkansas has the opportunity to build a strong long-term economy on the solid foundation of its bountiful renewable resources.

The state’s vast areas of productive farmland, ample water, windy heights, and favorable climate combine to give Arkansas the potential to become a national leader in producing the clean energy that America needs. And its dependable workforce and strong business community have the tools for leadership in manufacturing equipment for clean energy industries. Taking advantage of these opportunities in renewable resource development would create tens of thousands of new Arkansas jobs and give a big boost to rural communities across the state.

Instead of importing energy from across the globe, Arkansas could become a key supplier of clean energy and the tools to produce it—provided that national policies are enacted to spur the development of renewable energy resources.