November 17, 2011

West Memphis in November Site Selection magazine

The November issue of Site Selection magazine features an ad promoting some of the many perks for businesses that choose to locate or expand in West Memphis. The ad is accompanied by the following editorial, from Economic Development Director Ward Wimbish.

West Memphis, Ark. ai??i?? a strategic business location with perks to spare
by Ward Wimbish

All you need to do is look at a map to get a handle on why West Memphis, Ark. makes strategic sense for any business relying on ready access to distribution channels. With I-55 and I-40 criss-crossing the city, any site in West Memphis is only minutes away from the third busiest section of interstate in the United States for truck traffic. And its central location makes it just a two-day truck drive to 75 percent of Americaai??i??s population centers, as well as Canada and Mexico.

But West Memphis is much more than a spot on a map. The city can offer a list of perks for business and industry nearly as long as the Mississippi River on which it sits ai??i?? and near the top of the list are multiple business parks, a strategically located port and an invaluable Foreign Trade Zone designation.

Business Parks

West Memphis has four business parks, all within sight of interstates 40 and 55: Import Park, Mid-America Park, J.W. Rich Park and Interstate Commerce Park. All four have full utility access, all have an Insurance Services Office (ISO) fire rating of 2, and all are minutes from the Union Pacific Intermodal Yard. The UP Intermodal Yard handles over 600,000 containers a year, 65% of which come from the Pacific Rim via the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Rail access is another appeal of West Memphis. That first glance at the map may not tell you that the city has access to five class-one railroads and is the only location on the south Mississippi River with two mainline rail-bridge crossings.

Mid-America Park provides a dual electrical feed and fiber optic capabilities. And if all that werenai??i??t enough Interstate Commerce Park is a designated Foreign Trade Zone and the other three are eligible as sub-zones.

Foreign Trade Zone
City officials applied for the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) designation in 2007 and the FTZ status for Interstate Commerce Park was granted in 2008. Developed by Industrial Developments International (IDI), the 340-acre site that makes up FTZ #273 already has one pad-ready site of 453,600 square feet, which can be expanded to accommodate a facility of up to 900,000 square feet.

An FTZ is an effective cost-cutting perk for businesses that allows domestic activity on foreign items prior to a formal customs entry and essentially allows re-exported merchandise to receive duty-free treatment, while duty payment is deferred on items sold domestically. According to the International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce, the designation aims to offset ai???customs advantages available to overseas
In simple terms, FTZs save companies money because they don’t pay duties for products or components shipped into the zone and can assemble the components in the duty-free zones, then ship them out. Only when the final product is transferred from an FTZ and formally entered into U.S. commerce do duties and taxes become due. And, if the final product is exported from the U.S., no duties or taxes are levied.

Mississippi River transportation plays an important role in grain, petroleum and steel logistics ai??i?? and the Port of West Memphis is a huge advantage for any of those users locating here.

One of the portai??i??s pluses is its dependability. Unlike regional, slack water harbors where silting causes ongoing maintenance issues or low water conditions cause closures, the Port of West Memphis is a deep water port located in the main channel and as never closed due to low water.

With a loading capacity of 100 tons, the port operates a general-purpose river terminal and a special-purpose grain terminal, some with direct-to-truck access. Both are within five miles of Interstates 40 and 55.

Recently, the city commissioned the creation of a Master Rail Plan for a 2,500-acre rail-port logistics park to be built adjacent to the port. The planned park will include approximately 11 million square feet of rail-served industrial space for distribution centers, light assembly facilities and packing/repacking operations.

Turn to West Memphis
Of course, these are just three of the perks that make West Memphis a list-topping choice for site selectors in multiple industries. Low utility and property taxes and a growing, made-to-order workforce ai??i?? thanks in large part to Workforce Technology Center at the cityai??i??s Mid-South Community College ai??i?? are also reasons this Northeastern Arkansas city is a no-brainer for business.

In an increasingly complex, competitive and global marketplace, leaders from companies large and small, and in just about any industry canai??i??t go wrong when they choose to Turn to West Memphis.