Walmart has pledged to spend an additional $250 billion to buy American made products through 2023 and the big spending push will benefit Nice-Pak, a company that makes a variety of wipes in Jonesboro.
On Wednesday (Sept. 6) the company announced it will add about 30 jobs directly because of the initiative, Nice-Pak Senior Vice-President of Operations Mark Welcer said.
Nice-Pak and Walmart had a joint, jobs creation celebration with Gov. Asa Hutchinson on hand touting to a crowd of about 100 attendees that civic and business leaders have created a business-friendly atmosphere in Northeast Arkansas.
“What I see here in Northeast Arkansas is dynamic leadership … It’s one of the centers for economic growth in the state,” Hutchinson said.
Nice-Pak opened its Jonesboro operation in 2008 and employs about 300 workers. The company was formed in 1957 and its first product was moist wet-wipes for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It has provided products for Walmart for 35 years. Those products include Parent’s Choice baby wipes, Grime Boss wipes, and a selection of Equate brand wipes.
About 250,000 manufacturing jobs are projected to be created by the initiative, Walmart Senior Director Public Affairs & Government Relations Joe Quinn said. Walmart buys about 66% of its products from U.S. manufacturers and almost all of its food products are American made, he said.
He said the company focuses on the person who makes the buying decisions in most homes – mom. Price is the number one factor for most moms, but American made is high on the list, Quinn said. Most mother’s think American-made products are higher quality according to research, he said.
Manufacturing jobs are on a comeback in the U.S., and America is poised to become a prime landing spot for restoring jobs, Hutchinson said. At a recent meeting in White House with President Donald Trump, the governor told the Commander-in-Chief that Arkansas is home to the largest retailer in the world, is a leading rice-producer on world markets, and has become a manufacturing hub. He told Trump he needed to support free trade policies that will benefit the state.
“He (Trump) told me ‘Asa don’t worry about it. I’m a tough negotiator’ … I’m always going to worry about it,” Hutchinson said.
The governor touted his strong economic record since taking office in 2015. During his tenure, more than 60,000 new jobs have been created and the state is experiencing an all-time low unemployment rate of 3.4%. But, more people need to join the workforce, he said, and the state needs to continue its efforts to attract high-paying manufacturers.
“Manufacturing is essential to the American future … manufacturing is returning to the United States,” Hutchinson said. “Arkansas is well-positioned.”