Regional Economic Development Inc. has asked Texarkana, Arkansas, and Miller County to buy land so that it can recruit a heavy industrial user, ideally an automobile manufacturer, according to REDI Executive Director Rob Sitterley.
The city has already agreed to contribute at least $230,000 annually for the next five years to buy land for a plant. The county’s Quorum Court will, at a meeting on Monday, mull contributing $1.25 million over five years per the recommendation of its budget and finance Committee.
Sitterley told Arkansas Business this is a “super, super early” step in the process, but his organization feels “real bullish on the wonderful assets we have to sell here, from our schools, higher ed, our colleges, our community colleges, our universities, our K-12 to our infrastructure: road, rail and air. We’ve got some really incredible things here to promote. The last piece being we need a property.”
He did not disclose the exact location of the land, but said it’s in Miller County.
Sitterley said the city and county owning the land would ensure that REDI is “ready and competitive when it comes time to answer the call.”
He said his organization has a comprehensive plan to aggressively recruit an automobile manufacturer, an original equipment manufacturer or other heavy industrial user to the area.
Texarkana, Arkansas, is already home to a Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. plant.
Sitterley said, “Again, all the wonderful assets that I mentioned, from the talent pipeline that comes out of all our schools, to the talented workforce that already exists here, to the infrastructure that makes it really easy to get anywhere in the country in a day’s drive — all of those things make this region prime for a large industrial project.
“We’re kind of right in the middle of a large vein of auto manufacturers, from Memphis to San Antonio,” he continued.“What it would mean to the economy is huge transformation, bringing hundreds if not thousands of jobs … increasing the tax base significantly. It’d be a huge change and much needed for a region that is in need of jobs.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the December 2019 unemployment rate for Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas, was 3.9%. That’s higher than the state’s 3.6%.
The next step is for REDI staff to meet with manufacturers, Sitterley said.
He expects his organization's recruiting process to take a year to 18 months, once the city and county acquire the property.