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Perched on the Arkansas River in the northwest of Arkansas, Fort Smith is the 2nd largest city in the state with an estimated 88,037 people attending a music concert, going to the theater, thrashing credit cards at one of the many malls or hanging out in a coworking venue getting creative. Historically a western frontier military post in 1817, it was the place to head to if you had a fur to trade. The city developed and became a base for migrants who wished to settle in the "Wild West". The town has been the scene shown in various movies such as "A Soldier's Story" (1984) and Biloxi Blues (1988), Fort Smith has numerous museums to poke your nose around if you wish to glean a sense of its culture. From annual rodeos to state fairs, there is plenty to keep a new comer occupied. It's home to the University of Arkansas that was founded in 1928 plus a plethora of other education institutions spawning the next generation of tech savvy youth.
Arkansas has a wealth of successful tech and startup companies within its midst creating a hot bed of innovative minds and mega talent. The mega giant of Walmart that is a household name has definitely influenced the tech scene of Arkansas and many startups are involved in retail, food and logistics that are the backbone of the economy of the state. The main difference between Arkansas and the bigger tech scenes of Boston, New York and Silicon Valley is the fact that tech souls are friendlier without the competitive edge found elsewhere. Here tech folk mix it up with brick-and-mortar souls, as they both face the same challenges as entrepreneurs. It's a happy melting pot of mobile app developers, tech gurus and geeks, venture capitalists and boutique shop owners hanging out together creating a bond between regional and local startup scenes.
The Arkansas government (both a state and local) is getting behind the tech scene to encourage the growth of startups. It's offering infrastructure and enacting new legislation to encourage investment in early-stage startups in an attempt to capture its intrepid innovators, rather than exporting their entrepreneurial activity. Coworking venues are providing hard-working Arkansans the space to mingle, collaborate and to get excited.
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