Jonesboro Unlimited set a target goal more than three years ago to add at least 2,500 good paying jobs in the Jonesboro area. The private-partnership, economic development organization decided to give itself five years to reach that goal. It gave itself too long.
JU announced Wednesday (Feb. 11) at its annual meeting that 939 jobs were created in the area during 2019, meaning more than 3,000 jobs have been created since 2016 when the plan was enacted. Those target industries where job growth occurred include agriculture, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, and professional services.
The job numbers come from Jonesboro Unlimited’s Annual Inventory of New and Expanded Industries and represent responses from nearly 100 local companies. The most significant gains were in healthcare and manufacturing. The healthcare industry in Jonesboro added 397 jobs in 2019, with 392 new jobs added in manufacturing.
“When you consistently add jobs to your economy for several years in a row, you are doing something right,” Jonesboro Unlimited President Mark Young said. “To average over 1,000 direct, new jobs a year for the past three years shows how strong our local employers are and how strong our city’s economy continues to be.”
Positions in healthcare and manufacturing account for 84% of the total jobs created since 2017. According to the Jonesboro Unlimited survey, 2,633 jobs have been created in those two industries.
“It’s exciting to be able to announce today that we have already achieved one of our key goals by adding 2,500 direct new jobs to the Jonesboro’s economy. While we are pleased with the progress, more work is to be done remaining dedicated to the advancement of economic prosperity in Jonesboro and throughout the region,” JU Chairman Chris Barber said. “We are meeting these goals through the commitment, dedication, and determination of our investors and local employers. We are looking forward to another exciting year ahead.”
The survey also revealed how local companies are reinvesting in their products, people, and services. Capital expenditures nearly tripled from 2018 to 2019. Companies taking part in the survey reported $275 million in capital spending in 2019. Over the last three years, the total amount of capital investment in Jonesboro is nearing half-a-billion dollars at $474 million.
Jonesboro Unlimited also premiered a new video series designed to help attract highly-skilled people to Jonesboro. The videos feature people who have recently moved to Jonesboro from much larger cities. The videos feature people from Trinity Rail, Hytrol, and the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University. They tell their stories of how they were unfamiliar with Jonesboro and how they have discovered what a special place Jonesboro is.
“It’s always good to get a fresh perspective on what your community has to offer people who are considering moving here. When someone comes to Jonesboro sight unseen, and you realize we are making a good first impression, that can be impactful. The people who shared their stories with us are proud to call Jonesboro home. They have become great ambassadors for Jonesboro,” Young added.