Economic engines

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 31 views 

In Arkansas, economic development manifests itself in many ways. In the past 10 days, we've seen a constant stream of announcements that will bring good jobs and new opportunities to our State. Each of these also illustrates approaches we use in powering the economic engines that generate success.

Earlier this month, we broke ground on a large expansion for Dassault Falcon in Little Rock. While creating jobs, Dassault has a long-term commitment to Central Arkansas that also helps us attract related companies to the area. That's one reason why, this past week, we were able to announce the arrival of Beaudet Aviation. Beaudet works on cabin interiors for Dassault, making Little Rock a logical choice for its first North American facility and the jobs that come with it.

While we enjoyed seeing the suppliers of major manufacturers making their way to Arkansas, we also were delighted to break ground for our next major manufacturer in Northeast Arkansas. Big River Steel in Osceola is the single largest economic investment in Arkansas history at $1.3 billion. The project will employ 2,000 people for the construction phase, and provide 500 permanent jobs that pay well. Big River Steel was the first superproject approved under Amendment 82 of the Arkansas Constitution. It took a lot of work from throughout state government, including the Arkansas Legislature, and now dirt has been turned and building has begun. We expect to hold future announcements of suppliers moving to and hiring in Mississippi County, as well as additional revenue for companies already in the region.

The day after launching Big River Steel in Osceola, we went to the other end of the State and broke ground for an expansion in El Dorado. Clean Harbor Environmental has operated in Union County for 40 years and will now add another incineration unit and 120 more jobs. The company will be able to double its rate of hazardous waste disposal. It's always important to stay mindful of the companies that already have a home here, because that continued partnership can lead to expansions just as this one did.

Finally, another historic project has begun in the State. On Sept. 24, we commemorated the 225th birthday of the U.S. Marshals Service the best way possible, by breaking ground in Fort Smith for the national U.S. Marshals Museum. An endeavor that's been resolutely pursued since 2007, the museum holds the potential to be another keystone for Arkansas tourism. There is still much work to be done to fund the completion and opening of the museum. However, from the current director of the U.S. Marshals Service to the dozens of current and former Marshals in attendance, it is clear that the national determination to meet that challenge matches the local dedication in Fort Smith.

Economic engines come in many shapes and sizes, which is why we diversify our development efforts and remain committed to the companies already here. While our successes won’t always be as neatly bunched as in recent weeks, I am confident they will continue to come, and continue to fuel Arkansas's economy.