Diverse Economy Powers Jonesboro Toward Future

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 25, 2013 12:00 am  

Jonesboro is distinctive. Newcomers immediately get a sense that Jonesboro is a special place with a solid economic engine powered by a diverse industrial base, robust retail and service sectors, an advanced infrastructure and superior health care and educational systems. Visionary leadership has created a business-friendly environment, a broad range of opportunities and a personal quality of life second to none in the Mid-south.

A tour of Jonesboro’s industry provides a glimpse into the economic powerhouse of northeast Arkansas. The list of world class manufacturing companies in Jonesboro is impressive; companies like Nestle Prepared Foods, Frito-Lay, Unilever, Nordex USA, Great Dane, Nice-Pak Products, Hytrol Conveyor Company, Post Foods and many others have chosen to invest in Jonesboro.

The agricultural industry is significant in Jonesboro; as a matter of fact, Craighead County has 300,000 crop acres. Jonesboro’s Riceland Foods is the world’s largest rice miller and marketer of rice. Plentiful industrial supply companies in Jonesboro have created a vertically integrated business environment that allows for greater synergies and speed to market.

The emphasis placed on the development of Jonesboro’s infrastructure has resulted in a utility system with competitive rates and excess capacity to meet future needs. The sophisticated telecommunications systems in Jonesboro offer a seamless network rivaling larger metro areas. Jonesboro’s geographic location as the gateway to the Mid-south is ideal for efficient access to markets.

Jonesboro’s retail trade has grown exponentially with the opening of The Mall at Turtle Creek in 2006. New retail stores, services and restaurants are thriving in the vicinity of the mall as well as in the downtown district, prompting job creation and the snowball effect of even greater investment in Jonesboro. The boom along the U.S. Highway 49 corridor has launched a wave of further retail growth, including entertainment venues and eating establishments. The financial services sector also makes a significant economic impact as the regional hot spot for banking and associated services.

Jonesboro is the health care hub for northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri and boasts two regional medical centers, together employing more than 3,500. The health care provider system includes women’s health centers, surgical hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, behavioral health hospitals, cancer treatment centers and medical and dental clinics, with specialty physicians of every kind. St. Bernards Healthcare continues to expand its reach along Matthews Medical Mile and recently added the region’s only neonatal intensive care unit, a $1.5 million extension of the St. Bernards BirthCare Center. St. Bernards also announced the new location for Total Life Healthcare, a program of all-inclusive care for the elderly. In addition, the new $400 million state-of-the-art NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital, the largest health care construction project in Arkansas, is due to open in mid-2013. NEA Baptist Hospital and NEA Baptist Clinic will be housed under one roof at the new health care campus, following the Mayo Clinic’s integrated health care model.

The heartbeat of Jonesboro is Arkansas State University, a Tier 1-ranked university that provides high quality academic programs and research opportunities and drives economic development. The university has 11 colleges that offer more than 160 different undergraduate and graduate programs to a current enrollment of 14,000. The ASU system is headquartered in Jonesboro and fuels the region’s vibrant economy by producing talented graduates and creating collaborative partnerships with industry and business.

Arkansas State University has made a significant investment to advance biotech entrepreneurship by creating the Catalyst Innovation Accelerator program. The program is housed in the Arkansas BioSciences Institute and provides a technology incubator to support and advance ideas for innovative business. It also helps retain the most talented among the region’s students and workforce and attracts high tech investments to Jonesboro.

The strength of Jonesboro’s workforce drives the success of the business and industrial community. The Workforce Training Consortium (WTC) is a unique resource that partners with ASUN–Jonesboro to provide progressive, relevant, employer-driven training programs that boost workforce capabilities. The WTC continues to invest in training and marketing opportunities, and works closely with Jonesboro’s high schools and the Northeast Arkansas Career & Technical Center. Companies choose Jonesboro for investment and expansion opportunities for many key reasons including the area’s work ethic and proven, highly skilled workforce.

Clearly, Jonesboro has taken its place as a premiere community. But don’t take your eyes off of the city – the Jonesboro of today is only a hint of the Jonesboro of tomorrow.

 

 

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