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From the Chamber’s President/CEO …  April 2021

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Win some. Lose some. While that’s a phrase we use offhandedly, in economic development it has real meaning.

Harrison and Boone County, the entire region, have seen lots of winning the past couple of years. From new retail businesses to expanding and growing industry and manufacturers. New logos like Planet Fitness, Home Helpers, Countryside Assisted Living, and Dunkin’ are appearing. Pace, WestRock, FedEx Freight, Wabash and other major employers have expanded with new equipment and added new employees. Harps Food Stores is building out a new store. DSI has bought new trucks. North Arkansas Regional Medical Center has partnered with CoxHealth to expand its healthcare services. Ozark Trailer Sales is moving to a new location and expanding. These businesses have created some $50,000,000 in new investment in only two years … and more is planned.

In 2019, we saw over 400 new jobs created and in 2020, even with the Covid pandemic, 60-plus new jobs were identified in the community. In two short years, those jobs have seen over $14,000,000 new payroll dollars for our local economy.

Each of these is a win, in the purest sense of the word. A win for the community. A win for individual prosperity.

And then we lose some.

Since November of 2020, our economic development team has been courting a new business. The project: purchase and subsequent multi-year lease of an existing property; building renovation and infrastructure upgrades; seven day-a-week operation; thirty-five net new jobs with $1,000,000 in annual payroll. Architects and engineers were on-site. It was down to the bottom line, the signing day.

But when you deal with Amazon – yes, Amazon – the leading retailer of the world, you need to be ready for the unexpected. As I told the Board of Directors last week, a ‘business decision’ by the company is all we’ll ever know, as they withdrew from final negotiations for the Harrison location and several others. 

It sure would have been nice to see the Amazon logo on one of our properties. But alas, it’s not going to happen. And that’s the world of economic development.

But win some. Lose some. It’s all part of the job.

And with a conscious effort to work with existing businesses, we were excited for the community to host the CEO of Pace Industries and his leadership team to Harrison this Wednesday. Donnie Hampton spent the morning with our elected and community leaders learning about what ‘makes us tick’ and why Harrison is a great location for Pace growth and expansion. More details coming soon … as we continue Taking Care of Business. Cheers, Bob

 

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