After nearly twenty years of vacancy the port at Helena is getting its first tenant, Enviro Tech Chemical Solutions. Improvements over the last decade, including rail lines, pipelines, and a crane have kept the port working in the absence of a permanent business. State Representative John Edwards attributes the port’s recent success to government involvement and personal leadership.
“They find that there’s a governmental entity that wants to work with business, wants to help them to succeed. There’s no single, magic silver bullet out there but leadership is indispensable on this.”
Helena-West Helena’s physical geography itself is an important factor for the port’s viability. It’s equidistant from St. Louis and New Orleans, which makes it a convenient stop for national river traffic. Phil Harvey, a vice president with Enviro Tech, identified the location as a factor in the company’s decision to locate in the port.
“We’re centrally located to our raw materials, and we’re also very centrally located to our customer base east of the Rocky Mountains,” says Harvey.
The company has confirmed the creation of 73 jobs and is likely to expand the plant to 150 workers. The minimum hourly wage is expected to be between ten and twelve dollars.
State Representative John Edwards has been involved in the Port’s decision to focus on attracting smaller businesses.
“There are more smaller businesses out there than there are the big 500 job employers. Everybody wants to land a big 500 job employer, but there just aren’t that many out there in the grand scheme of things,” says Edwards.
Phil Harvey, a vice president with Enviro Tech, pointed toward Helena’s ability to adequately staff and operate the facility.
“The workforce has been fantastic so far. Everybody has been extremely easy to work with, very driven. We have had our problems like everyone else. With what we have to offer we’ve had great success hiring out in Eastern Arkansas and Western Mississippi,” says Harvey.
Enviro Tech’s planned arrival will generate new jobs for the port authority and increase revenues collected throughout the community.