State & Local Leaders meet for Economic Dev. Summit
October 12, 2017
Arkansas District 4 State Representative DeAnn Vaught and local leaders from city and county government, churches, business, farming community, banks, the Industrial Board and the Chamber of Commerce met for an Economic Development Summit on the UA Cossatot De Queen and Ashdown Campus.
The purpose of the summits was to discuss the future of Sevier and Little River County communities, as well as the role that its residents play in growing local economies.
“I was delighted to attend the Economic Development Summit. Hearing that there are others who are concerned about the economic growth of Little River County was very encouraging,” stated Linda Walker, co-founder of the C.A.P.P. program and retired educator from Ashdown Schools.
“I am very appreciative to Representative Vaught for her knowledge and foresight in helping our county plan for the future.”
Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Mike Preston was the guest speaker. Preston reiterated that Sevier County is missing many opportunities to inform the rest of the state, the country, and even the world of available land, buildings, technical/skilled trades training and education, as well as a willing and eager workforce that Southwest Arkansas offers.
According to UA Cossatot Chancellor Steve Cole, “The counties we serve have unique advantages for businesses, most notably a growing workforce and endless opportunities for affordable industry training through the college. We have to do a better job getting the word out to potential industry and even existing industry.
“Just having someone like Mike Preston visit our counties speaks volumes about the importance of our areas to the state’s economy.”
After Preston spoke, the floor was open to questions that were directed towards Representative Vaught, Preston, and Southwest Arkansas AEDC representative Cody Slater. Addressed concerns were internet service limitations, access to major highways for the trucking industry, and a lack of housing to entice relocation of large industries with employees.
Overall, the summit was successful in the fact that the Arkansas Economic Development Commissioner is now aware that Sevier County and Little River County are both working toward a plan that will focus efforts on making Southwest Arkansas more visible for industries to establish themselves.