While there are 200,000 small businesses in Arkansas, we also have many large employers, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to businesses with more than 10,000 employees. Some of the largest companies in the state have deep roots here, growing from small mom-and-pop shops to global enterprises. In no particular order, here are seven of the state’s largest employers and a fun fact about each one.
- Murphy Oil Corporation & Murphy USA in El Dorado — While some may know Murphy for their oil and gas production and service stations, El Dorado residents know them for scholarships. Murphy Oil sponsors the El Dorado Promise, which provides all graduates of El Dorado High School with scholarships. The amount depends on how long the student has been in the El Dorado School district, with students who attend kindergarten through 12th grade in the district receiving a full scholarship. From 2007 to 2016, more than 2,000 students were awarded scholarships to attend colleges in 29 states.
- Tyson Foods, Inc. in Springdale — Their story starts back in the Great Depression when John W. Tyson moved to Arkansas looking for better opportunities. He started delivering chickens, and his business grew during World War II as poultry wasn’t a rationed food and was in high demand. Now Tyson’s partners with 11,000 farmers for chicken, beef and pork production, paying more than $15 billion in 2013 to U.S. farm families, many in Arkansas. While you drive around rural Arkansas, look for Tyson signs at the entrances to farms. They are raising our food!
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock — UAMS is the only academic health and science university in Arkansas, and it’s the largest public employer, with more than 10,000 employees in all but 2 counties across the state. At the last commencement, UAMS graduated 942 health professionals providing top-quality health care to Arkansans. One of the university’s unique programs deploys physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals to rural areas, allowing students to repay their loans following graduation by practicing in a rural community.
- ArcBest in Fort Smith — What started as a local freight hauler back in 1923 now provides global logistics solutions and employs more than 13,000 people. Judy McReynolds, the company’s first female chair, president and CEO, was recently named as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential Women of the Mid-Market” for the third year in a row.
- Dillard’s, Inc. in Little Rock — This well-known department store opened as a five-and-dime store in Nashville, and has grown to include more than 250 stores in 29 states. They are known for their huge New Year’s Day sale, where customers line up to get the best deals of the entire year.
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Bentonville — Of course, any Arkansas employer list must include Wal-Mart. In 2017, they topped the Fortune 500 list at the No. 1 spot. Wal-Mart is adapting to digital shopping and changing the way they meet customers’ needs with services like grocery pickup and Site-to-Store delivery. Their largest event is the annual Shareholders Meeting, which is held in Fayetteville each year and brings in Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club associates from across the globe. Northwest Arkansas becomes a hot spot as celebrities are brought in to host events and perform for the crowd. In 2017, the show was hosted James Corden and featured concerts by rock-bands Styx and Foreigner.
- J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. in Lowell — If you drive along Interstate 49 through Northwest Arkansas, you’ll see the headquarters for this Fortune 500 transportation company. Namesake J.B. Hunt started the company with five trucks in 1961, and now they own more than 12,000 trucks and employ 22,000 worldwide. Each year, J.B. Hunt drivers compete in the Arkansas Truck Driving Championship against drivers from other companies to recognize the best driver in the state. In 2017, J.B. Hunt sent 29 drivers to compete.