Arkansas Tells ABF Freight: Think About West Memphis for Terminal Move

by Marty Cook  on Tuesday, Jun. 3, 2014 10:31 am  

Grant Tennille and ADED wants ABF Freight to consider West Memphis for its new terminal. (Photo by Mike Pirnique)

"It was sort of up in the air," Nichols said as to the timeline of a possible move. "There was not any new information shared."

Tennille said Beebe has yet to meet with ABF Freight or ArcBest executives about the possible move. In his meetings, Tennille said the idea of moving to the West Memphis area was floated as an alternative.

If the North Little Rock jobs were to move to another Arkansas location, Tennille said the governor would consider cash incentives to help. The suggestion is still in its infancy, Tennille said, so there is no estimate on the cost and viability of a move to West Memphis.

If ABF Freight were to leave North Little Rock, Tennille said keeping the jobs in Arkansas was a priority for the governor.

"We don't like to provide incentives for companies to move from one location to another location [in Arkansas]," Tennille said. "If we could poach some jobs from Tennessee and save some jobs in Arkansas, we may see our way clear to participate in something like that."

Tennille said he and the governor also understand the operational allure of Memphis, but perhaps being on the Arkansas side of the river would be almost the same thing as being on the Tennessee side.

"Memphis for all kinds of reasons has become a huge logistics hub in the U.S.," Tennille said. "We try not to money-whip companies into making stupid decisions."

Nichols said Teamsters officials had been told that if ABF Freight did expand in Memphis — or some other location — then current employees in North Little Rock would be given the opportunity to move. The North Little Rock hub would be reduced to about 25 to 40 employees, Nichols said.

Nichols said he was appreciative of Beebe's understanding of the Teamsters' plight.

"The state is not going to reward the company for adding jobs in one area of the state while eliminating jobs in another area of the state," Nichols said. "[Beebe] said whatever funds the state had committed to the Fort Smith expansion was made prior to the closing of North Little Rock facility and his office is not going to support.

"We're not happy about any payback for the company because the company is not doing anything wrong, but it is refreshing the governor was in tune with our issue," he said. "That he would work with the company but also hold them accountable is unique." 



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