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Arkansas: Creating Competitive Communities

Competitive Communities

By the BF Employees
From the January/February 2019 Situation

Whether or not an organization is increasing or conducting a location evaluation for a brand new location, every are in search of comparable attributes in a group: an actual property choice that meets their wants, applicable infrastructure, a positive enterprise local weather, entry to a talented workforce, and help from state and native officers.

The State of Arkansas understands these wants, which is why we function the best way companies do. We additionally know that many elements go into making a group and state the correct match. By persevering with to enhance upon high quality of life—elevating instructor pay and enhancing pre-k entry for all college students, decreasing taxes, offering further funding for public security officers, all whereas sustaining a balanced price range—Arkansas is making its communities stronger and higher ready for financial improvement alternatives.

It’s the rationale why Arkansas has been a pacesetter in financial improvement for greater than half a century. A part of Arkansas’ newest plan to make communities much more engaging for brand spanking new and increasing companies—the Aggressive Communities Initiative (CCI)—is up and operating with nice success.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson stated when this system launched in 2018, “We don’t simply need to compete, we need to win. My prime precedence is to develop the financial system of this state, to create jobs, and for Arkansas to enter a time of sustained financial energy and affect.”

CCI is the results of a strategic plan with enter from communities, website choice consultants, utilities, and different stakeholders, and requires communities to evaluate and supply info to the Arkansas Financial Improvement Fee (AEDC) for analysis.

“This can be a strong program that was rigorously created to take advantage of the belongings we have now in every of our communities,” stated Mike Preston, AEDC government director. “In communities giant and small, there are belongings and strengths that make Arkansas a fascinating location for enlargement and relocation. By way of the Aggressive Communities Initiative, we’re poised to grow to be the usual by which different states are measured.”

The CCI analysis begins with an area financial improvement group’s dedication to finish inside 45 days an preliminary questionnaire detailing present workforce, obtainable and shovel-ready websites, funding sources and knowledge from the group’s financial improvement group.

Greatest practices within the area of financial improvement have been used to find out the requirements for the Aggressive Communities Initiative. A structured and funded financial improvement group that has the help of the enterprise group is crucial. Moreover, there have to be a talented workforce able to fill jobs and a pipeline of prepared staff sooner or later. Lastly, in an effort to get hold of the CCI designation, a group should have a shovel-ready, licensed website that takes the dangers and guesswork out of planning for progress.

An analysis workforce together with AEDC and partnering organizations makes use of the offered info to assist communities higher perceive any gaps or weaknesses that would negatively have an effect on financial progress. With help from all stakeholders, communities can start creating an motion plan to enhance areas which are missing of their financial improvement efforts. As soon as the 4 pillars are as much as commonplace, a group might be designated by way of this system as a Aggressive Group.

The designated CCI communities range in location, measurement, industrial base and funding streams for financial improvement, however every has dedicated to focus their assets on making their group one of the best it may be for potential companies to find.

“Paragould has been part of group improvement packages up to now, however this initiative is totally different in that it has made us take an excellent exhausting take a look at not solely our group strengths but in addition our weaknesses,” stated Sue McGowan, director of financial improvement for the Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce. “By offering perception on how we will scale back these weaknesses—and hopefully flip them into strengths—we really feel that Paragould is now higher outfitted to compete for financial improvement tasks.”

Jon Chadwell, Newport Financial Improvement Fee government director, stated, “We consider that Newport has the items to be a terrific location for brand spanking new and increasing companies, and Aggressive Communities helped us make all of these items match in order that we will full the puzzle.”

When he first took workplace 4 years in the past, certainly one of Gov. Hutchinson’s priorities was to streamline the state’s start-up, relocation and enlargement processes for enterprise. He instantly took steps to take away administrative and regulatory obstacles that business and enterprise typically think about unnecessarily burdensome. [This section was written by Clint O’Neal.]


The 7,000 acres generally known as Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith, AR that have been as soon as a part of an Military base at the moment are known as, “the gold normal in financial improvement,” having attracted $1.6 billion in capital investments. As we speak, 1,600 developable acres stay out there. Twice acknowledged because the Base Redevelopment Venture of the Yr by the Affiliation of Protection Communities, Chaffee Crossing has been the driving pressure behind financial improvement within the western a part of the state.

The HUB is a brand new $11-million improvement at Chaffee Crossing in east Fort Smith, AR that gives eight,800 sq. ft of economic area adjoining to townhouses, flats and eating places. (Supply: Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority)

Sixteen worldwide, nationwide, regional and company headquarters have made Chaffee Crossing their residence, together with ArcBest Company, Walther Arms, Umarex USA, Phoenix Metals, Mars PetCare, Glatfelter, and Arkansas Schools of Well being Schooling. Lengthy recognized for its well-trained workforce, Arkansas’ second largest metropolis has a fame for being a producing middle. With the introduction of the brand new medical school and upgraded army missions, new goal industries for now embrace medical analysis and improvement, transportation, know-how and military-related companies along with superior manufacturing.

Magnets for technology-based improvement are the Arkansas Air Nationwide Guard 188th Wing mission utilizing remotely piloted plane with joint use of Razorback Vary, a army goal vary in the midst of the 65,000 acre Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Coaching Middle (Arkansas Military Nationwide Guard). Rail entry and shut proximity to the Arkansas River make this a super location for army coaching and associated product/know-how improvement.

An entire infrastructure package deal helps improvement in Chaffee Crossing. Fort Smith is situated on the intersection of Interstates 40 and 49 with Arkansas River ports, Class I rail strains, and a business regional airport minutes away. Job creation is at three,600 and rising. The $12 million relocation venture of Hwy. 255 via Chaffee Crossing starting in 2020 will present a brand new, safer route for motorists with improved accessibility to Chaffee Crossing developments. Port enlargement and I-49 enlargement tasks are presently into account, furthering the connectivity of this market within the middle of the nation. Ample and low-cost utilities (electrical energy, pure fuel, water) have made this a fascinating metropolis for giant business.

Medical analysis and improvement will complement the Arkansas Schools of Well being Schooling, a non-profit, privately owned and operated college that sits on a 228-acre campus within the coronary heart of Chaffee Crossing. The school operates a $three million analysis facility along with the Arkansas School of Osteopathic Drugs with 150 college students per class. A second faculty scheduled to open in 2022, Arkansas School of Well being Sciences, will supply bodily remedy, occupational remedy, Doctor Assistant and grasp diploma packages for approx. 60 college students per enrollment yr. The grasp plan for the campus consists of a number of phases of scholar housing, business/retail improvement starting from suites to huge packing containers surrounded by single-family residential models, mountain biking trails, a canine park, a therapeutic and wellness backyard, and different leisure facilities.

Different instructional alternatives at Chaffee Crossing embrace College of Arkansas-Fort Smith Business Driver Coaching, Arkansas Tech College-Ozark Cardiology Know-how, Van Buren/Fort Smith Plumbing Apprenticeship Faculty, Studying Fields at Chaffee Crossing, and Cre8ive Arts Community.

The Chaffee Crossing way of life at present is constructed round 29 residential neighborhoods with a conservative projection of two,600 models of varied types. Leisure facilities embrace a golf course, a waterpark, AR Recreation & Fish Nature Middle, fishing lakes, soccer fields, and miles of multi-use and mountain biking trails inside a brief stroll or bike journey. A $three.5 million, 6.5-mile multi-use path undertaking will quickly be beneath development all through the event.

Business and retail improvement are on the rise in Chaffee Crossing. A number of eating places and business areas are in numerous levels of planning and development. Because the residential neighborhoods increase, Fort Smith correct is increasing towards Chaffee Crossing with new companies. Eating places, health facilities, medical providers and recreation-oriented retail to enrich the outside way of life of Chaffee Crossing have opened prior to now yr.

The Chaffee Crossing Historic District, listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations, consists of World Struggle II-era Military barracks and administrative buildings that’s turning into a magnet for funding. A grasp plan for the historic space requires it to be a walkable district with residential models, outlets, leisure venues and eating places. Buildings inside the Nationwide Register itemizing space present alternatives for buyers to use for rehabilitation tax credit. Presently there are museums, a microbrewery, and quite a lot of business, retail and repair companies within the rehabilitated buildings. A $three.5 million warehouse rehab consists of eating places, and different lease areas. On the coronary heart of the historic district is the Chaffee Crossing Barbershop the place Elvis Presley acquired his first G.I. buzz reduce, the Museum of Chaffee Historical past and the Chaffee Crossing Veterans Memorial.

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