Hostess using $2M from local tax for infrastructure, equipment

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

In one of the “fastest economic development projects” the state has worked on, Hostess Brands announced Monday morning its intentions to open a production and manufacturing plant in Clark County, four months after Project “Cupcake” was first mentioned in public.

Jack Thomas, senior project manager for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, was among several who spoke to a crowded board room at Fairfield Inn & Suites. He said the initial contact with Hostess was made on Nov. 4 and that local officials worked at “lightning speed” to secure the project in the former site of Danfoss, located in the Clark County Industrial Park.

The snack company said in a press release that the plant would create 150 local jobs over the next three years.

One of the major factors in choosing Clark County over the four other locations it considered was the $2 million incentives package the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County pledged in November to help with starting the operation, Kevin Jester, EDCCC chair, later told The Arkadelphian. Asked what the taxpayers’ share would fund, Jester said it would pay for infrastructure improvements and equipment purchases. “We will either pay vendors directly for work they do, or we will reimburse for equipment purchases based on receipts,” he said.

The average salary at Hostess will be an hourly wage of $23.84, Jester said.

Jester said a clawback clause is in place to guarantee Hostess holds up its end of the deal. “If they don’t produce the number of jobs they say they will, there’s a clawback,” he said.

Jester was among those who spoke during Monday’s press conference, applauding the voters for their support in last summer’s special election to continue the tax. “You and us have worked toward a moment like this for a long time,” he told a crowd of more than 70 local leaders. “But mostly you” for making the decision to continue the tax. 

“It’s exciting to see that Hostess recognized something in this county,” Jester continued. “It wasn’t simply about dollars and cents, but they recognized that there was some value here, that people were willing and able and ready to be a workforce in this place, that there is quality of living here. We’re excited they’re going to be a part of that.”

3 replies »

  1. 2,000,000 taxpayer dollars for 150 jobs… wasn’t the original promise 170? And didn’t they sign an NDA to keep us in the dark until now? And couldn’t Hostess pay for it themselves? They’re a well off company — the People of Clark County are NOT well off; over 20% live in poverty, according to the US Census Bureau, so why should our sales taxes (which hurt the poor, BTW) be raised for this? The jobs likely won’t pay much more than minimum wage. Obama’s failed bailouts showed that handing out money to big business doesn’t work. Why didn’t they give us a tax cut or put the money towards small businesses? Oh, and wasn’t the turnout for the sales tax election less than 18%? President Trump wouldn’t be happy with how the local GOP is running Clark County like ‘tax and spend’ Liberals.

    • If you don’t make 6 figures and rub elbows with the elites Clark County does not care about you. Clark county loves to be Boujee (for lack of a better word). That rock in front of KFC was on sale obviously for the low price of $10,000…

  2. Glad the clawback is there just in case. I feel like we were left on the hook when Sun fell through. Hopefully this (relatively) smaller deal for an existing building will be easier to see to completion.

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