Thursday, October 21, 2010

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is the state agency that recruits industry and works with existing industry to promote expansions.

The agency has had a relatively good year, considering that much of the national economic stories this year have been filled with depressing news.

Back in May, a Pine Bluff paper mill announced a $53 million expansion. Company spokesmen credited the help of local and state governments in making the expansion possible.

In June, Dumas got some good news when a local pet food processing plant added 44 full time jobs with benefits, the AEDC announced. Also in June, southwest Arkansas added new jobs when a company that processes passports and travel visas dedicated a new service in Hope.

Later in June a Hot Springs firm that produces plastic packaging announced that it would expand operations and add 150 workers to its existing staff of 250.

Central Arkansas got good economic news in July when a major telephone company with operations in 23 states and $4 billion in yearly revenue announced that its corporate headquarters would be located in Little Rock. That added 210 jobs to the existing 300 jobs with the company.

A baby food plant in Fort Smith added 50 full time jobs in July to the 650 it already provided. Also in August an electronic motor manufacturer in Searcy added 55 new jobs to its work force of 70 people. The expansion will allow the firm to build energy efficient "green" motors.

Another electronics firm in Fayetteville announced in August that it would add 75 new jobs over the next few years. The company makes circuit boards, wiring harnesses and other electronic parts.

Northeast Arkansas recently received good news when a manufacturer of laundry products announced it would invest $44 million to build a new facility in Marked Tree and expand an existing facility in West Memphis. The company said that the moves would create 120 new jobs in both cities, for a total of 240 new positions.

In early October officials broke ground on a $100 million plant to build wind turbines in Fort Smith. When it is complete in 2011 it will have a work force of 330 people.

Earlier this month the country's largest manufacturer of fiberglass boats announced an expansion in Flippin that will create an additional 115 jobs.

Last week the paper mill in Crossett announced that it is investing $250 million at its Crossett facility, which will secure the 1,300 jobs it now provides.

In each case the AEDC has helped bring about the expansions. The agency has programs that offer tax incentives, financing for needed upgrades to infrastructure, job training, energy efficiency and help in promoting Arkansas products in overseas markets.

Many incentives are greater in blighted areas where unemployment is above the national average. The AEDC has specialized programs for small businesses and businesses owned by minorities.

A division within the AEDC promotes the film industry in Arkansas. Its staff encourage producers to shoot movies, television shows and commercials on location in Arkansas.

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