by Mark Carter
Posted 11/25/2013 11:51 am
Updated 8 months ago
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday announced a new initiative to better position large-acreage sites for major industrial development.
So called "Advance Arkansas Sites" must be "ready for rapid industrial development and meet AEDC's highest standards of quality." Sites that earn the designation will be marketed on the AEDC's website and on a new site, AdvanceArkansasSites.com.
Two large-acreage sites, called the "Little Rock Metro Mega Site" and the "West Memphis Mega Site," are already featured on AdvanceArkansasSites.com. The Little Rock site is located in Saline County and is 2,045 acres. The West Memphis site is 1,420 acres.
The listing for each location lists property information, demographics and workforce information to sell prospective businesses on the site.
"Arkansas must use every tool available to highlight our state's economic advantages in a competitive global marketplace," Beebe said. "Companies looking to call Arkansas home need easy access to the right information that will immediately put us in the conversation for potential projects large and small alike."
Beebe said the majority of AEDC's time will be devoted to non-mega sites, but called the new sites and the website marketing them a new "arrow in the state's quiver."
Grant Tennille, the AEDC's executive director, called Advance Arkansas Sites "a proactive tool that allows decision makers quick access to detailed information on Arkansas' best, large-acreage sites."
"They make sure we have the capability for rapid expansion and industrial development," he said. The process of identifying the first two mega sites was exhausting, Tennille said, and communities across the state will continue to sumbit potential sites for consideration.
Tennille said the sites help Arkansas catch up to its peers, across the South especially, in identifying sites that can attract major projects such as an auto plant.
"We were behind yesterday," Beebe said. "We're caught up today."
Economic development officials from West Memphis and Saline County said their communities invested "hundreds of thousands" of dollars on the sites to meet the mega site criteria.
Tennille said all preliminary work such as extending utilities, rail, water and sewer is complete at both sites.
"These sites are ready to go and ready to market," he said.
Tennille wouldn't say if the state was negotiating with any companies specifically about either of the mega sites, but noted, "negotiations are always ongoing."