For our November print issue, we asked local experts to gaze into the crystal ball to predict what life in the Little Rock metro area will be like in 2050.

Growth and improvement
A host of hopeful predictions.

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Little Rock’s population will reach 350,000. We’ll have elevated rail transit from East Little Rock to West Little Rock and from Hot Springs to Little Rock, similar to “L” in Chicago. Little Rock will have a Major League Soccer and NBA team. UA-Little Rock will have a football team. The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport will become an international airport. Broadway Street will be redeveloped away from fast-food chains. There’ll be massive infill development of apartments and businesses replacing downtown Little Rock’s overabundance of surface parking. The city will move away from the council/city manager form of government to a mayor/council arrangement. The Pulaski County Special School District schools in Little Rock will become part of the Little Rock School District, and there will be longer school days and year-round school with breaks throughout the year. Two years of civics classes will be a graduation requirement. Free early child care and education will be available to residents. War Memorial Park will be considered Little Rock’s Central Park, and trail and park development will continue along the river. Little Rock will annex Cammack Village.

—Antwan Phillips, at-large Little Rock city director

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We’ll be dead
Or own fun goats.

Global warming will drastically increase the world’s temperature, causing an increase in the mosquito population which will lead to more disease. Antibiotics won’t be effective anymore and when the next big bug goes around, we won’t be able to fight it off. Basically, we’ll die, and we won’t be here. But let’s pretend we are here. I think goats will replace lawnmowers, and we’ll essentially have stress reducers, fun goats and lawn care all in one sweet animal. — Ashley Jones, managing director of community programs for the The Venture Center

Musicians will take charge
Of venues and more regularly of recording.

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I don’t see live music venues closing, but I have this weird vision that they evolve into a new nature, with individual artists taking more control and setting up shows within their own vicinities — an empty strip mall, where a band rents the room and puts on the show however they want to. In Paris, there are areas where dozens of movie theaters are situated closely together — I went to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in the middle of the day. In 30 years, I can see artists controlling some spaces like that — pooling their own money and building a recording studio, putting on their own shows, selling their own tickets. Recording will change, too. Thirty years ago, if someone had told us there would be an artist recording in a bedroom with their brother and then winning a Grammy?! We would have said, “That’s a lie!” 

— Christopher Terry (CT) is director of the annual Mutants of the Monster music festival, events coordinator at Vino’s Brewpub and vocalist for Rwake, Deadbird and Iron Tongue. 

Money via an app
Also, no fossil fuels and Elvis lives.

Our financial technology future looks like the convergence of all the new technologies into a single app. We’ll have our financial lives run by machine learning and artificial intelligence. We’ll transact in digital money, and it’s very likely currency will be decentralized. These innovations will be particularly impactful because decentralized currency will smooth out the distribution of wealth, and digital money will enable underserved people today to be better off. Transferring and sharing money will be easier and much less expensive. I don’t think we’ll be on fossil fuels anymore, and I think Elvis will take the stage at Simmons Bank Arena, which will still be … Simmons Bank Arena! Prince will be there, too.

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— Wayne Miller, executive director of The Venture Center

The impact of Ford Next Generation Learning
Career-focused education pays dividends.

Following the 2020 implementation of the Academies of Central Arkansas in all public high schools across each of the four school districts within Pulaski County, public education began to experience significant improvement in core academic achievement for all students. An increasing number of students began graduating both college- and career-ready and with self-advocacy skills. Public school enrollment began trending upwards as academy high schools became schools of choice for parents, students and teachers. The academies model, intentionally built to be adaptable with the changing needs of education and industry, remains as relevant today and enjoys foundational community support. Many local teachers, parents, CEOs and community leaders are products of the academies. As a result, the economy and population of Pulaski County has grown at a much faster pace these last 30 years than the preceding 30.

— Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Buckley O’Mell, vice president for advocacy; and James Reddish, executive vice president