Jonesboro Unlimited reports jobs growth in 2020; new vice president for economic development hired

by George Jared ([email protected]) 596 views 

At least 842 direct new jobs were added to Jonesboro’s economy in 2020, according to Jonesboro Unlimited, a non-profit organization that promotes economic development in Northeast Arkansas. To date, almost 4,000 new jobs have been created in the first four years of Jonesboro Unlimited’s five-year strategic plan, dubbed “Momentum Jonesboro.”

“It is very encouraging that Jonesboro has been able to prevail through the most turbulent economic year in decades,” said Mark Young, President and CEO of Jonesboro Unlimited. “When you have industries that were still hiring in 2020 despite the crisis caused by the pandemic, it shows Jonesboro’s economic base continues to thrive.”

The total far outpaces the goal of 2,500 direct new jobs over five years.

“When we met our five-year goal after just three years, we promised we would not become complacent, and we didn’t,” said Chris Barber, Chairman of Jonesboro Unlimited, “We have always been confident that the diversity of Jonesboro’s economy is an asset during uncertain financial times. Adding over 800 jobs in 2020 shows just how strong Jonesboro’s economy is.”

Manufacturing and healthcare, two of JU’s five target industries, account for 87% of the job gains in the last four years. Professional services, agri-business, and logistics supplied the remaining 14% or 532 additional jobs over the previous four years. Capital investment by Jonesboro companies stayed strong in 2020. Companies that responded to JU’s “Survey of New and Expanding Industry” reported a total of $87 million in capital investments. Over four years, Jonesboro companies have invested over $550 million.

“A number like that shows more than growth, it shows a confidence in our city and our people. When local companies invest over half-a-billion dollars over four years they aren’t just looking out for themselves, they are stakeholders in the community,” Young said.

As part of JU’s continuing efforts to attract new business, it has launched a new Virtual Building Program. The program is a collaborative effort between JU and Nabholz Corporation in which a virtual building is constructed and placed on one of the available sites in Jonesboro’s Craighead Technology Park. The computer animation demonstrates what an industrial facility would look like, starting with a 100,000 sq. ft. building and expanding up to 400,000 sq. ft.

“It’s a great tool for companies looking to invest in Jonesboro,” Young said. “We have great, shovel-ready sites with all the needed utilities. Combining those assets with a powerful visual element like this is another asset we have to market Jonesboro.”

JU has launched a new, updated website and it has appointed Steven Lamm as its new vice president of economic development. Lamm, an Arkansas State University graduate, comes home to Jonesboro after spending several years with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and most recently as the vice president of workforce development with the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“As a lifelong Arkansan and an A-State grad, I am well aware of what a dynamic and growing community Jonesboro is,” Lamm said, “My wife and I are excited to come back to a city that means so much to both of us.”

Lamm’s first day at Jonesboro Unlimited will be March 15.