Arkansas Leaders: New Initiative Shows State Can Handle Major Industrial Projects

Nov 25, 2013

Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, announces the new initiative alongside Governor Mike Beebe.

Governor Mike Beebe and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission are announcing an initiative they say will show that Arkansas has the capability for rapid expansion and large-scale industrial development.

It's being called the "Advance Arkansas Site" initiative and state leaders say it will better position the state to compete for projects requiring large acreage.

The website identifies such mega-sites and gives details like nearby major employers, workforce statistics, and cost of living information.

Grant Tennille, who heads the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, says two sites have already been designated mega-sites and are being marketed. One is in the Little Rock Metropolitan area in Saline County and the other in West Memphis.

“The targets for these sorts of sites are major industrial projects. We're talking about things like auto plants. So millions and millions of square feet of manufacturing space,” says Tennille.

Tennille says he hopes other communities will continue the process of having sites in their area qualify for inclusion on the list, a process he notes is quite time-consuming and expensive.

“This gives us the option to pursue some larger projects that in the past we weren't ready to pursue. A lot of this work came as the result of our looking for mega-sites for potential projects – in one case a project that has been announced in Big River Steel – and realizing that we didn't have enough and we needed communities to step up to the task of providing us larger sites,” says Tennille.

Construction on the Big River Steel plant has been delayed after the competing Nucor Steel filed an objection to the new company's request for environmental permits.