Arkansas: Growing The Great Outdoors

An Irish firm expands in Sherwood, and outdoor recreation is a focus in The Natural State.

By Anne Cosgrove
From the May / June 2023 Issue

Foreign direct investment saw a boost in Arkansas in Spring 2023, with an announcement from Ireland-based RelateCare that’s expected to create 255 jobs to Sherwood, AR over the next three years. RelateCare, a healthcare communications and services organization, has leased a facility at the Wildwood Centre in Sherwood, and announced plans for the job creation that will support back-office functions for hospitals and healthcare facilities for clients in the United States. Headquartered in Waterford, Ireland, RelateCare began as a joint venture between Rigneydolphin and Cleveland Clinic in 2014 and currently employs 100 staff in Arkansas, primarily in the Little Rock area.

“RelateCare has seen rapid growth over the past two years, with our administrative and clinical solutions increasingly supporting a wide range of health systems in the United States,” said Conor O’Byrne, CEO of RelateCare Group. “We’re delighted to widen our U.S. operations here in Sherwood, Arkansas during a very exciting time of customer expansion for our company.”

Outdoor recreation is currently a $3.5 billion industry in Arkansas. (Photo: Adobe Stock / Jaimie Tuchman)


RelateCare provides patient-access and patient-engagement solutions to healthcare organizations around the world through its technology platforms. Part of the Akusus Group, the company has seen rapid growth over the last decade and currently employs more than 1,400 people in Ireland and the U, with 500 of those jobs added in the past year.

“My administration is working to make Arkansas the best state in the country to live, work, and raise a family—and that starts by creating an economy where jobs are abundant, and paychecks are rising.”

— Gov. Sanders

“My administration is working to make Arkansas the best state in the country to live, work, and raise a family—and that starts by creating an economy where jobs are abundant, and paychecks are rising. Through their landmark investment in our state, RelateCare is helping us build the economy we need to take Arkansas to the top,” said Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The new hub in Sherwood will serve to support RelateCare’s clientele through remote clinical support services, post-discharge management services, and telehealth and patient appointment scheduling services. RelateCare plans to hire new management executives, support staff members, and access-to-care staff members.

“We are proud to welcome RelateCare to Arkansas, where it will find a robust workforce to power its operations,” said Clint O’Neal, Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). “Arkansas continues to provide a competitive business environment for international companies to grow and thrive.”

Boosting Outdoor Recreation

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This Spring, Gov. Sanders tapped Arkansas First Gentleman, Bryan Sanders, to chair the Natural State Advisory Council, whose purpose is to establish Arkansas as an outdoor recreation destination and grow the outdoor economy. The aim is to double the state’s outdoor recreation economy from its current $3.5 billion to $7 billion in the next 10 years. This would move the tourism industry to be a leader in the state, a spot currently held by agriculture.

A package of six laws recently passed in Arkansas’ last legislative session focuses on outdoor recreation, highlighting the role of Arkansas State Parks. These parks attract 10 million visitors annually, five million from out of state. One initiative of the recent legislation is the Arkansas Tourism Development Act, which creates the Natural State Initiative Pilot Program. This establishes up to four opportunity zones in or near state parks where private businesses would receive tax incentives to invest.

Check out all the latest news related to Arkansas economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.