Larry Dunaway took office as mayor on Jan. 1. He has worked for Nashville for three decades. In July, Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna announced that it would close its Nashville production facility next year, affecting about 700 jobs, leaving Dunaway and other officials to find a new use for the 874,000-SF facility.
Dunaway was educated as a journeyman plumber and holds licenses and certifications in water distribution, wastewater treatment and other disciplines.
What are you doing to prepare for the Husqvarna plant closing next year?
I immediately contacted the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to begin putting together a strategy to recruit new industries and businesses to Nashville.
Have you worked with other local leaders to deal with the closure?
Yes, there has been an outpouring of support. We have a very close-knit community and there were many offers of help. I reinstituted our Nashville Economic Development Committee. Members include several local business owners, County Judge Brent Pinkerton, and our Chamber of Commerce director, Tim Pinkerton.
What kind of businesses or industries might you target to fill the void?
The manufacturing facility is 278,000 SF and could feasibly be configured to house up to three different manufacturing processes simultaneously. Also on the grounds is a 350,000 SF warehouse. We will consider any businesses interested in coming to Nashville.
How might this change your local economy, good or bad?
This plant closure will have a negative effect on our local economy initially, but we have come together as a community and will support each other until we get through this process. The positive impact has been that we have been made to realize that there is no place for complacency here. We are motivated now more than ever to bring new and different businesses and industries to Nashville.
What are Nashville’s strengths?
Nashville has always had a solid industrial base. Jobs have been plentiful. We have an outstanding school district, a nationally recognized hospital, and our city park is second to none. We are near four state parks: Crater of Diamonds, Historic Washington, Daisy and Millwood. Within an hour’s drive are Dierks Lake, Lake Greeson, DeQueen Lake and Millwood Lake. Nashville is a great place to live, work and do business because we are a very close and supportive community.
This is your first term as mayor. What do you like about the job? What are its challenges?
I enjoy the opportunity being mayor gives me to help people. To have the honor of being mayor is something I take very seriously. I work hard every day to represent the people here with integrity and good old common sense.
Why did you get into politics?
I began my career with the city of Nashville in 1993. I was hired by the water department as a meter reader. I had no plans to get into politics. In 2006, I was appointed public works director, served under two mayors and learned a lot. When the previous mayor decided not to run again, I felt that running for mayor was my next step. I see it as my duty to continue to serve in whatever capacity that I can.
What is a good leadership lesson that helps you?
I have learned many good lessons from the people I have worked for over the years. The process I try to follow: do my job to the best of my abilities and expect that of others. Be honest, be humble and do what you say you are going to do. My dad taught me that my word is my bond. My mom taught me honesty, and my faith teaches me humility. In my opinion, this is what it takes to be a good leader, a good husband, a good father and a good papaw — as well as a good servant to God and to the people I represent.