commentary from the office of Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe
Arkansas must use every available tool at our disposal to highlight our state's economic advantages in a competitive global marketplace. Companies looking to call Arkansas home need and want easy access to the information that can immediately place us in contention for potential projects. By identifying the right sites, we demonstrate to major employers that Arkansas can handle large industrial development rapidly.
This past week, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission launched AdvanceArkansasSites.com, a Web site featuring large-acreage locations that meet the AEDC's highest standards of quality. The Web page offers information about sizable tracts of land that large industrial projects often require.
But the information goes beyond the land itself, also including data on workforce, area demographics, infrastructure and transportation resources. Currently, two sites are listed: the Little Rock Metro Megasite located in Saline County off Interstate 530, and a West Memphis Megasite. Communities across the state are already working to submit additional sites for consideration.
While this new resource is an important step in promoting large sites, most economic development continues to create jobs on a smaller, but still vital, scale. Throughout this fall, several corporations have announced plans either to locate new operations in Arkansas or to expand their existing presence.
For example, Prime Line Inc., Lowe's largest domestic supplier east of the Rocky Mountains, announced that it would double its workforce by adding 50 jobs. To accommodate this growth, the company will operate a new facility in Malvern. Their latest move builds on Prime Line's history as a homegrown success story. When the company was incorporated in 1996, it had only six employees.
International companies continue to select Arkansas for their North American investments. Among them is Vinh Long, a Vietnamese manufacturer of home-furnishing products made from natural fiber mixed with industrial materials. The company plans to spend $5 million on a facility in Morrilton that will employ 75 people.
Building our economy always requires work on multiple fronts. Through the continued support of our existing employers, we help them grow and add new jobs. Welcoming new companies to Arkansas builds our reputation nationally and globally as a place that fosters business success. With the addition of this new Web site, Arkansas and our communities are aiming big with our economic-development aspirations. These communities did the work and spent the money to meet the criteria necessary to attract large-scale job creation.
Arkansas' skilled workforce, central geographic location and shipping infrastructure are just a few of Arkansas's business attractions. Using these selling points, our state's economic development team has been effective in recruiting new employers and helping expand current companies.
Our new online resource to appeal to large-scale manufacturing operations is just one more arrow in the state's quiver. Our work never ends to bring more jobs here and to ensure that Arkansans have the secure, rewarding careers they desire.