Jonesboro, Arkansas did not make the final short list for a possible relocation of one of two divisions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Earlier this year, Trump administration officials said that the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would be moved out of the Washington, D.C. metro area. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Friday (May 3) that the finalists from 136 possible communities would be narrowed down to three:
- Purdue University in Indiana;
- Kansas City, Missouri; and
- The Research Triangle in North Carolina.
St. Louis, Missouri and Madison, Wisconsin also were named as runners-up if any of the three finalists did not qualify.
“This short list of locations took into consideration critical factors required to uphold the important missions of ERS and NIFA. We also considered factors important to our employees, such as quality of life,” Perdue said. “Relocation will help ensure USDA is the most effective, most efficient, and most customer-focused agency in the federal government, allowing us to be closer to our stakeholders and move our resources closer to our customers. Our commitment to the public and our employees is to continue to be transparent as we proceed with our analysis.”
Jonesboro made an application to be considered and was one of the 136 communities reviewed for the final three candidates. State economic development officials – fresh off a string of significant economic development announcements – said Arkansas made a strong bid.
“While we’re disappointed with the news, we know AEDC and our communities put together a strong package. Together, we will continue to compete for both public and private sector jobs with intention, in order to build our diverse economy and improve the quality of life for all Arkansans,” said Arkansas Economic Development Commission executive director Mike Preston.
Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce officials were unavailable for comment.
ERS and NIFA, now headquartered in Washington, D.C., are responsible for researching critical issues, including food safety and security, nutrition assistance, rural job markets, sustainable farming practices and international trade policies. The federal competition to relocate the two agencies could have brought more than 700 high-paying, science-focused jobs to the Northeast corner of the state.
Arkansas did make an initial cut to 67 semi-finalist communities.