By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian
Touting success highlighted by Hostess Brands’ commitment to create 150 local jobs, Clark County’s top job official voiced optimism for what’s in store for the future.
Calling 2022 a “banner year” for economic development Clark County, Shelley Short delivered an annual report to justices of the peace.
Supporters of the 1/2-cent sales tax that collects roughly $1.25 million annually to provide companies with incentives share the idea that “smart communities invest in themselves,” said Short, the CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County (EDCCC). Short, who was tapped in September to lead economic development efforts, called job creation a “long-game approach” as major projects take longer to materialize.
Community leaders and tax supporters, Short added, realize that “our best days are yet to come” and that Clark County “will be seen as a prime location for business, tourism, talent, education and much more.”
After highlighting the year’s successes, Short said 2022 “set the bar high, and that’s a good thing.” She added that Clark County is “blessed [to have] attributes that many [communities] can only dream of.”
Here’s a rundown of Short’s report:
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Innovex has signed a 10-year lease agreement on 70 acres of the EDCCC’s super site in Gum Springs. The company, which produces instruments used in the oil and gas industry, will create 8-10 jobs and aims to start constructing a facility this summer, Short said.
Perhaps the sweetest news to ever come to Clark County, Hostess Brands announced in March that it chose the former Danfoss facility in the industrial park as its new sustainability-first, state-of-the-art bakery that will mainly produce the company’s Donettes®.
After the EDCCC pledged $2 million in incentives to help the company revamp the old plant, Hostess has vowed to invest $120-140 million and create 150 jobs with an average hourly wage of $23.84.
Short reported that Hostess plans to begin operations by late summer 2023.
Caddo River Wood Products
The Amity-based Caddo River Wood Products received $125,000 in an EDCCC-backed incentives package to create 15 jobs at an average of $19 an hour. The $4.5 million investment will be headquartered at the former site of Amity Trade Days and will produce an estimated 10 million board feet per year of hardwood products including cross ties, dimensional lumber and firewood.
Short reported the mill should be fully operational by this spring.
The EDCCC in August approved a $2,000 incentives package for the Joan-based B&R Enterprise, which manufactures wooden pallets at its Highway 51 facility.
The package helped the company add a third $12/hour job to its existing workforce.
With its parent company headquarters in France, Veolia North America intends to make its Gum Springs plant “one of their flagships across the business line,” Short said of the company’s recent announcement to invest $600 million — the largest in Clark County history — to expand the waste management facility.
Although the EDCCC provided no incentive funding for Veolia because the plans didn’t qualify under the old tax guidelines, Short said the company has more plans in the works later this year or early next that could possibly meet those requirements. Short didn’t expand on what the plans entailed.
The most recent expansion is expected to create 100 jobs.
EDCCC financial report
The EDCCC netted $1.97 million in 2022. $1.86 million in sales tax receipts made up the bulk of that income, combined with $14,200 in rental and lease income and $97,800 in interest income.
On paper it appears as though the corporation ended the year in the red, with a reported loss of -$1.28 million; however, the EDCCC has $11.29 million in assets. Broken down, assets include $6.68 million in cash on hand, $3.8 million in land and $769,000 in water rights. The EDCCC has $4.59 million in liabilities.
• Leadership Clark County Class IX graduated 21 community leaders this year. The program “helps provide leaders with information and knowledge they need to know” about their community, said Short. Newly elected Justice Zach Bledsoe was among the recent graduates of Leadership Clark County. The next class will commence in 2024.
• A groundbreaking for the Arkadelphia Bypass was held in the fall, and work has begun to clear a path for the new roadway.
• The Clark County Career Expo attracted 200 local students, 40 employers, two participating school districts and the Trio program to its first event held in the fall.
• The City of Arkadelphia extended its water and wastewater utilities to the super site in Gum Springs. The EDCCC-approved $964,000 project is said to provide infrastructure that will enhance the marketability of the super site.
• The Clark County Workforce Training Group secured a $420,000 grant to purchase mobile technical equipment for in-person training.