October was a busy month for your Chamber. In addition to adding five new investors and meeting with Boone County’s municipal mayors, we held our first Economic Development Leadership Summit on Oct. 8.
Lt Governor Tim Griffin, Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston and Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward keynoted our event.
Over sixty community leaders had the opportunity to engage with these state leaders, in addition to Senator Scott Flippo and Representatives Jack Fortner, Keith Slape and Ron McNair.
Lt Governor Griffin quickly picked up on our workforce efforts with the WIN (Workforce Initiative Network) project, citing it as an example of what other Arkansas communities must do to strengthen our basic skills for graduating high schoolers.
Secretary Ward highlighted the fact that Boone County leads the state in livestock production and Secretary Preston emphasized the need for Harrison and Boone County to invest in their economic development efforts if we want to entice new businesses to make their home here.
We also had the opportunity that day for industry partners WestRock, Wabash and Thorpe to host their senior executives here to see the efforts we’re making to provide a well-rounded quality of life for their employees.
I had the opportunity to also meet with the Boone County Quorum Court and Harrison City Council to give them our first economic development report. Since January 2019, we’ve seen over 390 new jobs (both full and part-time) created, prime business expansions totaling $8.6 million, main street expansions totaling $14.1 million and new build construction and prospects totaling $30.8 million. Along with prime business prospects of $37.3 million, we have total investment in Harrison and Boone County of almost $91 million in the first nine months of the year. As I told those elected bodies, we’ve only just begun!
November will also be a busy month for us. A committee of community leaders has nominated new directors to govern the Chamber and they’ll be placed before all investors for election next week. The new directors will then meet at an offsite to plan next year’s Chamber agenda, and its envisioned to be a very busy one. In conjunction with the O.U.R. Cooperative, we’ll host the Fall WIN Summit on Nov.21, bringing together 100 CTE teachers and counselors from the area’s 21 high schools to kick off another year of education and manufacturing engagement. The new WIN Catalog will also be distributed to every 9 through 12 grader in the area, providing them details and knowhow to enhance their workforce skill sets.
And I’m most pleased to announce that Wilson Marseilles joins the Chamber team today as the director of investors and marketing! Wilson, a HHS and UCA graduate, will devote his time to engaging with and caring for the businesses that make the Chamber run. He’ll ensure that we ‘tell our story’ to the communities we serve and those who are interested in making Harrison and Boone County their home. He’ll be out and about in the weeks ahead, so please help me welcome Wilson to the HRCC team!
For our Harrison residents, don’t forget that our economic prosperity needs your YES vote FOR the Community Center on November 12 (early voting begins next Tuesday, November 5).
Together, we’re…taking care of business! Cheers, Bob