March 16, 2012

State turns to West Memphis as go-to site for new development

Less than seven months after West Memphis voters approved a new strategy for attracting big industry to the area, interest in this Eastern Arkansas town has grown in the eyes of site selectors and business decision makers.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. State economic development leaders are looking to West Memphis as a short-list topping first choice for businesses looking to start, expand or relocate in Arkansas.

In the office of Grant Tennile, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and nowthe Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), West Memphis is well-known.

“As part of one of the key distribution regions in the U.S., West Memphis has unlimited potential to lead the state in attracting new business and expanding existing ones that rely on dynamic logistic capabilities,” said Joe Holmes, spokesman for the AEDC. “We work with West Memphis on a constant basis to assist with the marketing of existing facilities and the development of new ones.”

And of course, the city’s new business incentive strategy is icing on the city’s economic development cake.

On Nov. 8, 2011, West Memphis voters approved a .25 percent tax to be added to the existing local sales tax to fund incentives for a prospective investment by a business. The tax is reaction to Arkansas legislation passed earlier last year that allows a city to apply up to a 1 percent sales tax to fund economic development incentives.

West Memphis was the first Arkansas municipality to take advantage of the legislation and propose the incentive strategy to voters. West Memphis native and State Representative Keith Ingram authored the legislation.

Holmes with AEDC says the voters embrace of Ingram’s plan was a smart move.

“West Memphis has clearly shown its commitment to identifying its strengths and developing them by the recent passage of special funding that will allow greatly enhance its recruiting efforts.”