AEDC Setting Records for Economic Development
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Economic Development Commission broke records for job creation and investment last year.
Thirty companies invested close to $6 billion and announced the creation of 5,359 jobs. The average salary of those new jobs is $29 an hour.
Last year got off to a good start, with the announcement of the largest single project in Arkansas history, an expansion of the U.S. Steel plant in northeast Arkansas.
Private companies aren’t the sole focus of economic developers. The United States Air Force and the State Department located the F-35 Foreign Military Sales Pilot Training Center at the Ebbing Air National Guard base in Fort Smith. Pilots will also be trained to fly F-16 fighter aircraft.
Other military investment by the federal government creates jobs at the Pine Bluff Arsenal and the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville.
South Arkansas is home to some of the nation’s largest defense industries. Northeast and Central Arkansas also have hangar space, extensive runways and a skilled work force. They make aerospace and defense part of the state’s economic foundation. Their importance is reflected in the fact that 15 state universities and 22 two-year colleges in Arkansas offer courses in aerospace and military technology, as well as computer engineering.
More than 14,000 people work in Arkansas aerospace and defense industries.
Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia was the first institution in the state to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as an aviation maintenance training facility. Graduates can work anywhere in the world where aircraft maintenance is in demand.
Producing firearms and ammunition is another industry that is strong in Arkansas. Companies of varied sizes are throughout the state, employing more than 3,000 people.
A team at the commission has the important duty of working to retain existing industry and to encourage their expansion. Last year they helped retain 3,058 jobs and generate $46 million in new investment.
Arkansas is home to 6,800 transportation, logistics and distribution companies that employ 55,000 people. An advantage is our location in the geographic center of the country. In addition, Arkansas is a producer of transportation equipment.
Statewide, 12.7 percent of the jobs in Arkansas are in manufacturing. The AEDC promotes industry with tax incentives, job training, infrastructure and financing.
More than 1,800 people from 81 countries attended a summit hosted by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science.
They discussed methods of controlling highly pathogenic avian influenza, a serious disease that requires rapid response measures to avoid the spread of massive losses of birds. In the United States, the disease has cost producers 59 million birds in 47 states since 2021.
In addition to the economic impact on growers, the loss of so many birds affected consumers because it factored into the recent price increases for eggs, chicken and turkey.
Cases of the disease have been confirmed in Oklahoma, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Idaho, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota.
Experts from Chile, Scotland, Mexico and the United States made presentations at the summit. They discussed how to extensively sample domestic flocks and wildfowl, the challenges of vaccination and other measures to control the spread of the disease.