Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston sees an opportunity in the bottleneck choking global trade. Preston said the state’s geographic location, transportation advantages, and economic leadership chemistry has positioned Arkansas for a plethora of projects in the works.
It was part of what helped recently land the $400 million, 500 job Trex deck manufacturing and distribution facility in the Little Rock Port Authority.
“We had a really good site there at the Little Rock Port that certainly helps our proximity to the rest of the country that they’re looking to in the market that they’re serving,” said Preston, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics.
“Something that the company said to us the other night – as we were talking about it and they could share a little bit more now that they’ve announced – they said that they really liked how we all work together. You know, when we first brought them in as a company and it was just a project name, we didn’t know who they were, but they saw how the economic development team really worked very well with the local community and how the governor and the mayor were on the same page, even though there might’ve been different political affiliations. When it came to jobs and trying to get this project done, everyone came together and said, ‘We’ll move mountains to make this happen because we want this project here in Little Rock, in Arkansas,’” he said.
Preston said there are a lot of requests for site proposals as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies sat on the sideline in 2020 and now they are making future investments.
“A lot of companies are flush with cash and the demand is so high. You’ve seen the supply chain issues and people are saying, ‘You know what, enough’s enough. We’re going to start manufacturing again, we’re going to start building things,’” he said.
Preston also said that while requests are coming in, his economic development team is being proactive in working with existing in-state businesses and recruiting others in the international supply chain.
“We’re waiting on the RFPs [request for proposals] to come, just because they’re coming in almost every day at this point. But we are reaching out to companies that we know – some existing ones in our state – to see what we can help them with in terms of their supply chain or their companies that they’ve been ordering from, from overseas. Is there an opportunity there? So we’re doing proactive outreach, but it really comes down to a company’s decision. While we can encourage them and ask them to ‘Hey, move your manufacturing back here to the U.S. and leave other parts of the world,’ it has to make financial sense for that company,” he said.
You can watch Preston’s full interview in the video below.