Miles, Minutes and Jobs: Jay Chesshir's Workforce Equation

Miles, Minutes and Jobs: Jay Chesshir's Workforce Equation
Jay Chesshir, president & CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber (Little Rock Regional Chamber)

In assessing central Arkansas’ rise as a logistics hub, Little Rock Regional Chamber CEO Jay Chesshir said last week the region has a driven workforce — and in this case, he meant employees who commute by car.

“We have been able to assure companies they’ll be able to hire, often on a scale of hundreds of workers, but the labor market has of course tightened,” Chesshir said. “But we’re marketing a workforce labor-shed of a half-million people who still equate miles to minutes.”

A mile a minute is 60 mph, and while most Arkansas commuters don’t average that speed, they are by and large willing to take jobs 20, 30 and even 50 miles away, he said.

“Because of the miles and minutes equation, these companies can begin the process at a range of 40, 50 or even 60 miles,” Chesshir said. “If you look at just the logistics and distribution projects alone that have come over the last 24 to 28 months in central Arkansas, you’re looking at well over 6,000 employees, and companies had to have confidence we’d be able to find them.

“The companies realize that plenty of people are willing to drive 30 minutes one-way, or even more, for a position with a competitive salary, compensation and benefits,” he said. “It’s an extremely tight labor force, but at the same time the regional aspect of the workforce and the miles-to-minutes ratio have been key to locating these companies and the talent associated with them.”

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