Friday, Aug 9, 2013
Governor Beebe's weekly column and radio address: Expanding Arkansas Manufacturing
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I’ve participated in lots of job announcements as Governor. The ones that seem to generate the most buzz and excitement are those that welcome a new business to Arkansas. I certainly understand that feeling. When a new company announces that it will invest in our State, it’s a sign of approval and confidence from another part of the country or the world. These are indications of the continued growth of Arkansas’s positive business reputation that we like to see.
But we are just as proud, if not more so, when companies already in Arkansas announce that they will expand here. It shows that they have found success in our State. It shows that they are confident in our workforce and business climate - two things they’ve experienced personally. And, it expresses a commitment to Arkansas at a time when moving and conducting business elsewhere is made ever easier by technology.
This week, two companies held events marking the expansion of their operations and further investment in Arkansas. The first is Bad Boy Mowers, an internationally known manufacturer that began 16 years ago in a Batesville garage. It spawned another company, Intimidator, which started making multi-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles in 2011. The grand opening of Intimidator’s new facility this week begins the creation of 200 more jobs there. That’s big news in a town of 10,000 people, and it’s a strong statement about the Independence County workforce.
The other announcement this week was made by Remington. Since 1969, it has operated an ammunition plant in Lonoke. In response to growing demand, it will invest $32 million to expand the plant and hire more employees. As a large company with a strong brand name that sells products throughout the U.S. and in more than 55 other countries, Remington’s expansion in Lonoke resounds positively well beyond just our State.
Both of these are manufacturing companies with a firm presence in Arkansas. Yes, the economy is changing rapidly, and knowledge-based jobs make up an ever-increasing share of the job market. To be economically stable in the future, Arkansas will have to continue creating and attracting these employers. But that stability also depends on the health of all our existing businesses and the rebound of American manufacturing.
Executives at more than one-third of large firms say they’re either considering or planning on moving manufacturing operations to the United States. Arkansas is well-positioned to seize these opportunities on the horizon. We have a strong reputation and tradition in manufacturing. That makes this week’s announcements all the more meaningful.
There is a healthy economic climate to be found within our State, and that’s a sign prospective companies are eager to see. So whether a business is cutting-edge or long-established, new to Arkansas or already at home here, its success here makes our entire State stronger. As our economic-development officials say, “Arkansas is open for business.” It’s a strategy that further expands both our economic base and our pride in our improving reputation throughout the world.