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Heartland by the Numbers

Click the dots to see what we’ve said about America’s small towns (micros) and cities (metros)

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Heartland Summit

The mission of the Heartland Summit is to showcase the exciting innovation happening between the coasts, spark frank conversations about the challenges the region is facing, and build networks to sustain economic growth and power problem solving across the country.

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Unemployment Claims Fall, an Unexpected Windfall

Dave Shideler and Jonas Crews
Initial unemployment claims fell by 6.5 percent last week, and the total number of persons receiving UI benefits fell by over 1 million the week of October 3.

3 Minute Read

POTUS (SIRIUS XM): What Is Heartland Forward: Interview With Heartland Forward CEO

Part 1
Ross DeVol explains Heartland Forwards' mission and current project, the Northwest Arkansas Economic Recovery from COVID-19.

9 Minute Audio

POTUS (SIRIUS XM): What Is Heartland Forward: Interview With Heartland Forward CEO

What Happens After the Election

James Fallows
From the Heartland Forward project, a report on an economic recovery strategy for Northwest Arkansas.

10 Minute Read

Seven-point plan charts NWA Economic Recovery from COVID-19

Ross DeVol, President and CEO of Heartland Forward said: The pandemic is accelerating trends that could favor Heartland communities like Northwest Arkansas.

2 Minute Read

Economic think tank pitches NW's recovery

Ross DeVol
Region can excel with plan, report says

3 Minute Read


To generate such an economic recovery strategy, Heartland Forward (HF) has undertaken an extensive and detailed analysis of the NWA region’s strengths, challenges and opportunities.

2 Minute Read

Ozarks at Large

On today's show, we hear about a new report from Heartland Forward that lays out a strategy for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for the Northwest Arkansas region.

Listen to the show here

Unemployment Claims Rise Suggesting Economic Recovery Stalled

Dave Shideler and Jonas Crews
Initial unemployment claims rose significantly last week, as nearly 80,000 more people applied for unemployment insurance benefits than in the prior week.

3 Minute Read

Heartland Women Take Care

By Julie Trivitt
Nationwide data indicates the economic effects of the pandemic have been disproportionately harmful to women’s careers.

4 Minute Read

Did Retail and Other Service Businesses Receive Their Fair Share of PPP Loans?

Dave Shideler and Jonas Crews
While retail businesses in 10 states across the Heartland received a share of PPP loans greater than or equal to their share of total firms, retail businesses in the other 10 states and other services businesses in all states did not receive their fair share.

4 Minute Read

High jobless rates in Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania point to problem for Trump

“You can’t separate the economy’s performance from the performance of keeping COVID-19 infection rates and death rates down. Clearly, they’re related,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward.

4 Minute Read

Did Manufacturing Businesses Receive Their Fair Share of PPP Loans?

Dave Shideler and Jonas Crews
Manufacturers in Ohio had the highest participation rate in PPP among Heartland states.

3 Minute Read

Hospitality-Related Businesses Receive Their Fair Share of PPP Loans?

Dave Shideler and Jonas Crews
Hospitality industry businesses across the Heartland likely did not receive their fair share of loans in PPP.

4 Minute Read

3 Markets Seeing More Buyers During COVID-19

Ross DeVol, president of Heartland Forward, a think tank in Arkansas, described the situation in Idaho Falls and other small cities like it as “to some extent, they got lucky because of their underlying industry structure.”

2 Minute Read

The Heartland’s Revival

A recent study from Heartland For­ward demonstrates, outside of Florida and the southeast coast, the cities growing fastest have been in the Heartland—Dallas–Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, Nashville, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Des Moines.

6 Minute Read

Three Small Cities That Are Thriving Despite the Pandemic

“The truth is that to some extent they got lucky because of their underlying industry structure,” says Ross DeVol, president of Heartland Forward, a think tank in Bentonville, Ark., focused on improving the economy in the center of the country.

4 Minute Read

The PPP Failed Minority-Led Businesses. 3 Ideas for What Could Work Instead

Brit Morse
The results are even less positive in the South and Midwest. Black- and Latinx-owned businesses represent about one-fifth of all companies in Alabama, but received just 7 percent of PPP loans, according to a new report from Heartland Forward, a Bentonville, Arkansas-based nonprofit focused on improving economic performance in the Midwest.

2 Minute Read

Exclusive: How the high-tech economy is expanding

"Knowledge-intensive young firms have a higher probability of achieving middle-market status where they can generate rapid job gains for their communities," per Heartland Forward.

2 Minute Read

Heartland Forward CEO discusses Does Geography Determine Destiny with TB&P Paul Gatling

Declining economic mobility for low-income households is a well-documented phenomenon with roots in overall rising inequality. But with this report, we take the conversation a step further, focusing on the Heartland region and exploring the factors behind economic opportunity.

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The key to recovery

Recent research from think tank Heartland Forward draws a clear link between strong entrepreneurial ecosystems and economic success. Cities with a higher share of employment at young firms, and particularly where employees at those young firms have a bachelor’s degree or higher, saw notably faster employment growth over the past decade.

2 Minute Read

The Economist - The urban prairie

A report in May by Heartland Forward, a think-tank of the Walton family (who own Walmart), laments that old, big companies do well in the region, but young firms rarely flourish. That is especially true in places that fail to encourage research and innovation.

10 Minute Read

The Key to Recovery

Page 4 - Recent research from think tank Heartland Forward draws a clear link between strong entrepreneurial ecosystems and economic success.

3 Minute Read

Arizonans set record for expanded jobless benefit claims as program's expiration looms

That new claims for Arizona jobless benefits have mostly leveled out in recent weeks might indicate Arizona's tourism sector hasn't been hit as hard as those of many other states, said David Shideler, chief research officer at Heartland Forward, which tracks economic activity in middle America.

5 Minute Read

Heartland Forward Senior Fellows, Florida and Kotkin share their expertise with WSJ

Winning Streak of Big Cities Fades With 2020 Crises
Coronavirus, anger over policing and strained budgets pack triple punch in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Boston, but don’t count cities out, urban experts say

8 Minute Read

Young firms can accelerate economic growth post COVID-19

Young firms born out of entrepreneurship today are our country's large employers tomorrow. Moreover, new Heartland Forward analysis draws a clear link between strong entrepreneurial ecosystems and economic success.

5 Minute Read

Two Midwestern cities. Two local billionaires (Koch and Buffett). Which one can boost prosperity?

Millennials are also looking for places that have invested in public infrastructure like parks, and recreational and cultural activities. And they’re interested in jobs with a future.

Omaha is a rising star in the race for a new generation of entrepreneurs, according to Ross DeVol, who runs Heartland Forward, an institute focused on economic renewal in the Midwest.

Read Article Here

Webinar: Venture Capital Trends, Recent Data, and What it Means for Colorado's Startups How Entrepreneurs can Power Economic Recovery

On behalf of Innosphere Ventures and Heartland Forward, you are invited to join us for a webinar as we discuss two new reports on venture capital, dig into the data behind recent VC trends, and talk about how startups and entrepreneurs can power the economic recovery.

Register Here

Entrepreneurs are key to Tennessee's economic recovery | Opinion

Ross DeVol, Guest columnist
Recent research from think tank Heartland Forward found that cities with strong entrepreneurial ecosystems see notably faster employment growth.

4 Minute Read

Twenty Top Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Across America

Heartland Forward, identified 20 top entrepreneurial ecosystems across America based on the share of employment by small firms, and the number of college-educated employees in those firms.

3 Minute Read

A 10-Point Plan to Reopening with Richard Florida

Richard Florida, Heartland Forward Senior Fellow, University of Toronto Professor, and NYU Fellow, discusses his co-authored 10-point plan on how cities can prepare for the future.

20 Minute Video

Young firms and the entrepreneurial ecosystems that spawned and nurtured them

Jonas Crews, Ross DeVol, Richard Florida and Dave Shideler

Read Report


Panelist Ross DeVol and others provide insight into the COVID-19 Heartland aftermath.

Watch Webinar

In a conversation with Heartland Summit Executive Director, Angie Cooper

New Research Finds Increasing Millennial Migration And Economic Opportunity In The Heartland

Heartland Forward Senior Fellow Joel Kotkin and his contributors address a fundamental topic for future economic success in the Heartland

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