story by Kim Souza
It’s been three years in the making but the Springdale Chamber of Commerce made public an economic development plan aimed at creating 3,700 jobs by 2017. The $2.6 million economic growth plan was unveiled to the media and general public on Tuesday (June 17) in downtown Springdale.
The “Ignite Springdale” campaign has already gained corporate investment support to the tune of $1.4 million pledged by 30 companies such as Arvest, Northwest Health, Harp’s, AT&T and Tyson Foods. (The complete list of supporting companies is at the end of this report.)
Chamber officials plan to recruit six new Springdale-based technology businesses to our tech park for about 250 new tech jobs with average salaries between $57,000 and $92,000.
Lisa Ray, president for Arvest Bank Springdale, said professional job growth is one of the four initiatives of “Ignite Springdale.” The job growth will come from the business recruitment in the technology sector, in addition to helping existing companies expand and add more jobs to their payrolls.
“We have 19 projects on the table between retention expansions and new recruitments and we continue to work with the state economic development team to put attractive deals together,” said Perry Webb, Springdale Chamber CEO.
He said they are waiting to hear back on nine deals out to corporate offices for local expansions. Webb adds that the “Ignite Springdale” campaign results should increase local payrolls by $200 million, helping to generate $1.4 million in additional tax revenue for the city.
He said the economic plan was fashioned from information, ideas and concerns gleaned from community leaders in 2010. The business professionals cited a need for more tech jobs, better retention and expansion incentives for businesses already located in Springdale, a new workforce training model that will ensure high school students are ready for the open jobs in manufacturing, retail and other professional services. Lastly, Webb said the plan aims to instill a new sense of pride in Springdale among its residents as it advocates for improvements that enhance quality of life.
“We need to elevate Springdale as a hometown choice for the professional moving here. We need more professionals living here and we know that quality of life is a must,” Webb said.
Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse applauded the chamber efforts and said the initiatives are in line with where the city is putting its attention.
Sprouse said the excitement and investments that have recently been flowing into downtown Springdale are a sign that there is enough energy at work this time to keep the flame burning.
Ray, also a director for the Downtown Springdale Association, seconded that sentiment noting that the recent $100,000 gift from Tyson Foods to downtown improvements was given because the corporation recognized that a better downtown Springdale is key to improving the quality of life for the city residents and all of Northwest Arkansas. She said the support from the Care Foundation ($493,000) to construct Turnbow Plaza was another huge vote of confidence.
The Walton family recently invested $1.22 million in two downtown properties along Emma Avenue and all eyes are waiting to see what becomes of this retail space located just two blocks from the Shiloh Square trailhead and Turnbow Plaza, which expected to be completed later this year.
“We are starting to see a sense of pride build up in downtown Springdale again, thanks to these projects and outside investments,” Webb said.
“Ignite Springdale” Investor List
Innovative Business Furniture
Miller Bokus Lack Architects
Northwest Arkansas Naturals
NWA Regional Airport
One Clean Sweep
Ozark Film & Video
Around the World Travel
Lewis & Clark Outfitters
Bank of America
Whittle Truck Sales
Engineering Services Inc.
First Security Bank
Harps Food Stores
Northwest Medical System
Ozarks Electric Cooperative
City Title & Closing