Gov. Asa Hutchinson will turn to the Sunshine State for his new director of economic development.
Talk Business & Politics and The City Wire have learned that Mike Preston, vice president for Government Relations with Enterprise Florida, has been tapped to be the new director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
AEDC is the state’s job development agency and works to recruit and retain businesses in the state. Former director Grant Tennille was not retained in the position by Gov. Hutchinson.
Preston was promoted to his position with Enterprise Florida in 2008. Enterprise Florida is a public-private partnership that serves as that state’s economic recruiting arm.
Hutchinson plans to hold a formal press conference at the capitol at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday to make the appointment.
On Wednesday night, he hosted a reception of economic developers to introduce Preston as his pick. Florida is considered one of the more active states in terms of economic development. According to the Enterprise Florida website, there have been six significant announcements so far in March, with almost 500 new jobs expected from the new deals.
Also, Florida’s manufacturing sector has reported growth after bottoming out in 2010. There were an estimated 330,100 employed in the state’s manufacturing sector in January, up from 327,600 in January 2014, and well above the 308,700 in January 2010.
Like Arkansas, Florida did suffer with high unemployment rates for several years following the housing industry collapse in that state. The unemployment rate in Florida during January was 5.7%, down from 6.5% in January 2014. Arkansas’ jobless rate in January was 5.6%, down 6.6% in January 2014.