Posted 3/29/2012 12:00 am
Updated 11 months ago
The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is the principal, business-driven leadership organization responsible for fostering the economic growth and development of the Little Rock region to ensure that business and industry may operate profitably and enhance the earning opportunities and quality of life for every citizen.
Not for one percent, not for 99 percent, but for every citizen.
A little over six years ago, the Little Rock Regional Chamber first began staffing the Metro Little Rock Alliance (MLRA) and essentially made its economic development efforts one with the million-populated, now 12-county region.
The results are indisputable and historically unprecedented – more than $1.55 billion new capital investment; over $459 million new annual payroll; over 12,000 new jobs.
Those numbers don’t account for all development – just that which was directly worked by the Chamber and MLRA.
But rather than declaring victory, we became more aggressive, seeking to bolster our economic development investment by as much as 100 percent.
This means a sharpened focus on priorities, centered on business retention and expansion, new business attraction, advocacy, talent development, and strategic marketing and communications.
In everything we do – from Leads Groups and Leadership Greater Little Rock to the Ambassadors and Create Little Rock, business and economic development is our priority.
Ours is a Chamber of small businesses. 74 percent of our members have 25 employees while 4.8 percent of our membership has more than 200 employees.
While we continue to compete for the rare, major and headline-grabbing locations, our economic development priority remains the retention and expansion of those businesses which are already invested in our community.
However, gone are the days when simply locating or keeping and expanding a business meant the people would come and stay. Today, one must attract and keep people in order to keep and attract business (i.e. talent). That is why the Chamber is the private sector’s leader in quality of life and talent development issues such as public safety and public education.
We make sure that the private sector’s interests are protected and served in the public sector at all levels of government. In this interconnected global economy, Little Rock, and indeed
Arkansas, must continually strive to become and remain business friendly, free of onerous fees and unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to doing business. We must also have a tax structure which encourages, rather than discourages, keeping and investing capital in the state.
To help keep, attract and grow business and talent, the pages that follow celebrate that which differentiates Little Rock and the region on a national and global stage. Our bragging rights. Our Capital Assets.
(Martin M. Rhodes of Stephens Insurance is Chairman of Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Jay Chesshir is President and CEO.)