Franklin McLarty, President and CEO of automotive group RLJ McLarty Landers, says there is certainty in the Arkansas and U.S. economy, particularly in the conservative investments he’s eyeing with a new real estate partnership.

McLarty, former chairman of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and a principal in a new real estate investment fund, was a guest on Talk Business Arkansas this week to discuss his new investment venture, CapRocq Core Real Estate Fund.

“What I feel pretty certain about is that real assets, true brick-and-mortar real estate – that is 75%-80% leased in good solid markets that have some depth and diversity in their economy – are going to hold up quite well,” McLarty said. “When inflation rears its head, which it eventually will – I have no crystal ball, when that happens we feel we can be quite insulated from that.”

McLarty also discussed general business conditions and how the state recruits business prospects to Arkansas. On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Beebe is expected to make a “superproject” announcement, which could be the largest economic investment of his tenure.

McLarty said the secrecy that surrounds state investments and negotiations is not always an agenda controlled by Arkansas economic development officials.

“The process is usually initiated, not always, but usually initiated by a third-party consultant that a large company has retained,” he said. “You don’t know who it is. You’ll be sent a request for proposal (RFP) from a third-party consultant, they’ll use code names, and sometimes when I think the AEDC staff may be saddled with not being so transparent, it’s not their doing.”

He also said that Arkansas, and any state, will be eliminated from consideration early on without the right labor force.

“The central theme that is fundamental to every RFP is workforce,” said McLarty. “They’re always going to look at the workforce both real-time and looking out 10, 15, 20 years.”

What happens after a state makes the workforce cut? Watch McLarty’s full interview below.

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