November 26, 2013

West Memphis ‘mega site’ one of two chosen for Arkansas push to drive development

Arkansas leaders are pushing an initiative designed to boost the profiles of potential sites across the state for major industrial development—and West Memphis has one of two sites receiving early attention.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and Gov. Mike Beebe announced the plan to promote “Advance Arkansas Sites” on Monday and tapped the “West Memphis Mega Site” and the “Little Rock Metro Mega Site” in Saline County as the first two sites to earn special distinction. Both are already featured on
www.AdvanceArkansasSites.com.

“Arkansas must use every tool available to highlight our State’s economic advantages in a competitive, global marketplace,” Gov. Beebe said. “Companies looking to call Arkansas home need easy access to the right information that will immediately put us in the conversation for potential projects, large and small alike.”

To qualify, a site must be ready for rapid industrial development and meet the AEDC’s highest standards of quality. The program and website anticipate the questions and criteria of corporate site selectors and make that information readily available in order to streamline the selection process and move a site like the one in West Memphis to a company’s short list.

The West Memphis Mega site consists of 1,420 acres in the industrial area near the Port of West Memphis—with easy access to the only deep-water port in the area, direct access to two major interstates and multiple rail lines. West Memphis Economic Development Director Ward Wimbish said the distinction was an honor—but no surprise.

“Having our site chosen by the state is gratifying and another milestone on our journey to make the area around our port the premier logistics and manufacturing location in the country,” Wimbish said. “From our master transportation plan to the $11 million federal grant to upgrade the port to the collaboration with private companies in planning and developing a major transload facility at the port, we’re making consistent progress towards our goal. Advance Arkansas reassures us of what we already know.”

In addition to transportation access, the city’s ability to provide competitive utility rates played a significant role in the West Memphis selection, according to AEDC officials.

“Because West Memphis owns and operates its own utility company, we can better control the utility expansions required for large acreage developments,” West Memphis Mayor William Johnson said. “That allows us to continue to provide one of the lowest electricity rates in the area.”

State Senator Keith Ingram is careful to point out that the Advance Arkansas program and the development and revenue it could produce is not just a win for West Memphis.

“This is a huge accomplishment,” Ingram said, “and will benefit not only West Memphis and Crittenden County but all of Eastern Arkansas as well.”

Learn more at www.AdvancearkansasSites.com and www.arkansasedc.com.