Mike Beebe Jeff Long, Tim Griffin, Forrest Wood on Yarnell's Closing

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe is sad to see the closing of Yarnell's Premium Ice Cream of Searcy, his spokesman Matt DeCample said Thursday.

Yarnell's confirmed Thursday morning that it would cease operations, citing financial distress and a tough year for the ice cream industry. The move leaves 200 employees without a job.

"The governor, and Searcy, have a long history with Yarnell's," DeCample said. "They're just an institution, and of course the governor is sad to see them go."

DeCample said that the loss of jobs is a concern to the governor as well, and that the Department of Workforce Services is already reaching out to the company's employees to help them figure out what comes next.

In a news release, U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., called the closing "terrible news" for the company's employees and their families, as well as the Yarnell family and the company's customers.

"This is another reminder of how far we have to go to get our economy turned around and how important it is to enact policies that encourage private sector job growth," he said.

In addition to being a source of jobs, Yarnell's was a supporter of Razorbacks athletics, producing a Razorbacks line of ice cream favors, including Woo Pig Chewy. The company had been a long-time licensee before becoming an official partner last season.

"We are saddened by the news that one of our state's great companies is closing its doors," Jeff Long, vice chancellor and director of athletics, said.

"Yarnell's has always been proud of its Arkansas roots and has been a partner with Razorback Athletics. We appreciate their support of our program, including their production of a variety of Razorback- themed flavors. We salute Yarnell's for a remarkable 75 years."

Forrest Wood, founder of Ranger Boats in Flippin, said he too was sorry to see the ice cream company close and the community lose jobs.

"I'm sorry to hear that," he said about the news. "I buy their ice cream. It's sad to lose a popular brand name product like that, and certainly too bad to lose that many jobs."

Wood said he understood how the general state of the economy could have played into the company's decision to close.

"I just feel real badly," he said. "It's sad to lose any jobs."

Don Munro, of Munro & Co. Inc. of Hot Springs echoed the sentiment. "I hate to see that happen," he said. "I know they have an excellent history." 

(Chris Bahn contributed to this report.)