A company that will manage operations of Entergy Arkansas’s power grid, broke ground on a new facility in Little Rock Friday. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator or MISO, is establishing a regional headquarters that it says will employ 50 people at average salaries of 85,000 dollars a year.
Local elected officials and company representatives gathered in the middle of a dusty construction site in West Little Rock to move dirt with golden shovels and give a ceremonial blessing to the arrival MISO’s new facility in Arkansas
Inside a tent on the property, MISO’s president and CEO John Bear spoke of his company’s expansion into the South.
“We’re really excited. It’s going to give us a control center...to look over the south region. It’s going to be a fabulous thing for the community as well,” Bear said.
The Indiana-based Midcontinent Independent System Operator is contracting with Entergy to, as Governor Mike Beebe put it, provide “air-traffic controllers for electrons.”
"They’re going to be directing those electrons throughout multiple, multiple miles of systems with engineers and highly qualified, highly educated people to be able to deliver reliable, cost effective energy,” Beebe, who was on hand for the ceremony, said.
Also in attendance were Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, Vice-Mayor Doris Wright, State Senators Jane English and Joyce Elliot, as well as members of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and several representatives from MISO.
Beebe said the company finishes construction of the building it will need highly-skilled, technologically-oriented workers.
“They’re going to have a lot of high-tech installation of equipment. [They’re] going to have all sorts of gizmos and gadgets,” he said. Of the decision to locate to Little Rock, Beebe said, “ultimately it all boils down to people.”
The facility will also headquarter a regional command center for assessing the power grid when destructive storms occur.
After the ceremony, Arkansas Economic Development Director Grant Tennille said MISO worked with local institutions of higher learning to tailor curriculums to fit the company’s needs. He says they had some requests like, “Can you add this class? Can you this, this way?
Tennille said the company wanted “graduates who’ve got the ability to come be effective on day one.”
Tennille said fulfilling those requests was one reason MISO chose to locate in the Little Rock area. The 50,000 square foot facility is expected to be complete in the spring of 2015.
Tennile said the state of Arkansas will be providing incentives to MISO for every employee it hires over a four-year period.