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  • Writer's pictureJ M Bell

Conway Named the Fastest-Growing City in Arkansas for Second Year in a Row

May 16, 2024 - Originally posted by conwayarkansas.gov


Downtown Conway, Arkansas Photo Credit: KATV

Conway is the state’s fastest-growing city, among those over 50,000 residents, for the second year in a row, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. 


Conway’s growth ranked as the 38th-fastest in the U.S., with its population rising 2.9% in 2023 from 67,616 to 69,580. Since 2000, Conway’s population has grown 61% from 43,167. The numbers solidify Conway’s place as the second-largest city in the central Arkansas metro.


“We have been blessed as a city. We have also done our best to honor the advantages we’ve been blessed with. Being recognized as the fastest-growing city for the second year in a row demonstrates our community’s ability not just for growth, but for sustained growth. That means something.” said Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry. “Conway's sustained growth isn't just about numbers; it's a testament to our people, our community, and our shared vision for the future.”


“That vision means working together on things that appeal not only to our residents — but to our future residents,” Castleberry said. “Conway is competing and winning nationally. We’re competing for jobs, for businesses, for new residents, and for college students. We’re competing to build a city our kids and grandkids want to live in.”


Conway has also seen a string of recent economic development announcements led by Westrock Coffee’s nearly $400 million investment in two new facilities in the city. With more than one million square feet of operations in Conway, the facilities will employ more than 900 people.  


Two pharmaceutical companies —Turbare Manufacturing and FarmaKeio Custom Compounding — opened new locations in the city and will employ nearly 200 people. Most recently, Central Cold Solutions announced plans to construct a $42 million, 130,000-square-foot facility in the Conway East Industrial Park. 


The City of Conway currently has more than $60 million in parks and trails projects underway. A $24.6 million federal grant was awarded in 2022 that will transform public transportation in the city by connecting several major landmarks and places of interest, including schools, major employers, retail areas, and neighborhoods through the Connect Conway Shared-Use Path.  


The city broke ground in 2023 on the Conway Community Center which will feature a competition pool, a community fitness center, and an outdoor pool area complete with a lazy river, tot pool, and water slides, in addition to eight volleyball courts, 12 pickleball courts, a walking path, community lounge, and party rooms. The Conway Soccer Complex will be ready for competition in the fall and will feature 10 fields, stadium lighting, a splash pad, a walking path, concessions, and public restrooms.


In February, the city was awarded the Silver Bike Friendly designation from the League of American Bicyclists making it the most bike-friendly city in central Arkansas and one of the three most bike-friendly in the state. Fewer than 40 cities in the country have a higher designation.


“Conway’s growth isn’t new,” said Conway Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brad Lacy. “The city has grown in every census since incorporating in 1875, but the recipe for growth has definitely changed.”


Lacy said the city’s recent growth is a by-product of the community, as well as public and private-sector leadership, investing in quality of place for the last two decades.


“Whether it’s adopting a complete streets program or protecting our historic residential areas, Conway has made purposeful changes that have fundamentally changed the way the city looks, feels, and functions,” he said. “Cities that grow are attractive places to live and access to talent is the path to economic growth. Ranking among America’s top 40 fastest-growing cities is pretty good evidence that this quality of place concentration is working.”


According to U.S. Census Bureau data, there are currently 801 cities in the United States with more than 50,000 residents. Conway’s 2.9% growth was nearly twenty times greater than the median growth rate of those cities. In addition to being the fastest-growing city in Arkansas, its growth would have put Conway atop the list of fastest-growing cities in 37 other states.


In March, the Census Bureau released data that showed Faulkner County grew by 1.9% in 2023, the third fastest in the state. The growth moved Faulkner County to an estimated population of 129,951, the fourth most-populous county in the state. Since 2020, its population has grown 4.9%.


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