Annual business reviews are underway with our partners. We’re continuing to work with housing developers and contractors as they prepare architectural plans for the Harrison City Planning and Zoning Commission. Boone County has several new homes under construction. New businesses are appearing, with Chick-fil-A and Popeyes both opening in mid-January. Expansions of our major employers are in-progress: WestRock, Claridge Products, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, and Pace Industries. North Arkansas College is developing customized workforce training for several local industries.
January 18-20, I attended the International Council of Shopping Centers ‘Red River’ Expo in Dallas. The largest gathering of retail businesses and economic developers in the South, the expo provided a venue to meet with some twenty (of over 250) businesses and taught the business-friendly environment our elected leaders have collaboratively created, our impressive traffic counts, the ever-growing quality of life initiatives like the recreation venues and new community center, and major infrastructure expansions and improvements of Harrison, Boone County, and North Central Arkansas. Follow-up is already in progress and in-person meetings are being scheduled in the coming weeks. We’re working hard to see the results of this engagement.
Our Government Affairs Committee is actively engaged with the 94th General Assembly’s work in Little Rock. Chair Dr. Stewart Pratt has provided the committee with the State Chamber’s Legislative Agenda and challenged committee members to bring forward issues that we can support them on, working with our state senators and representatives. We’re tracking several bills including those focused on a continuous learning system with competency-based pathways in K-12 education, career technical education, higher education and the workforce, reciprocal licensing agreements, and opposing healthcare mandates that will contribute to increasing the cost of employers’ healthcare plans.
The 2022-2023 WIN (Workforce Initiative Network) Textbook is being distributed to over 3,500 8th through 12th grade students in all of the O.U.R. Education Services Cooperative school districts in the next several weeks. We greatly appreciate the 16 businesses that sponsored this excellent student and counselor resource highlighting the tremendous jobs available after graduating from high school.
Finally, we’re almost settled into our new offices where we’re taking care of business in Suite 301 of Signature Tower, 303 North Main Street. We look forward to welcoming the community with a ‘re-grand’ opening later this month. Cheers, Bob
Robert "Bob" Largent
Chamber of Commerce
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