Billion-Dollar 'Superproject' Highlights Amendment 82 Bonds

by Michael Stratford, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 10:55 am  

A "superproject" could benefit from Amendment 82 — a voter-approved funding mechanism that would let the state borrow up to $235 million to cover a company's start-up costs, with the Legislature's approval. Voters in 2004 gave legislators the authority to take on such debt after the state lost a truck manufacturing plant to Texas. (Photo by Stephanie Dunn)

Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, says that while it's difficult to measure the impact of an economic project without knowing the nature of it, an investment in a company that attracts additional businesses, such as other components of its supply line, would certainly have a multiplying effect.

Part of the initial economic impact will be determined by how much of the company's capital investment is spent within Arkansas, pointing out that $1 billion represents just for under 1 percent of all the economic activity in the state.

Still, Deck says, creating new manufacturing jobs would be a welcome announcement in a state that has lost many jobs in that sector over the last decade.

Although employment in manufacturing jobs in the state ticked upward last year, the number of manufacturing jobs in Arkansas has plummeted by more than 25 percent over the past decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"We still have a workforce that has skills in that sector, so I think our workforce would be ready for whatever kind of manufacturing project is announced," she said.

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