Friday, October 24, 2008

What's Your Excuse This Time, Dan?

Four months ago, Conway landed a Hewlett-Packard facility that will employ about 1,200 people in highly skilled technical positions with starting salaries around $40,000 and many much higher (The per-capita personal income in Arkansas is $30,600 a year), anticipating an annual payroll of more than $48 million. Why didn't they locate in Fayetteville? We have Cowbirds and the FEDC. The University of Arkansas has far more high tech resources than UCA, and Conway is in a dry county. Why wasn't Fayetteville selected as the site? Can't we compete with Conway for knowledge-based jobs?

Mayor Dan Coody dismissed suggestions that he blew it, claiming that there was no way to have landed the HP plant, because they wanted to be close to the Little Rock metropolitan area. Uh huh.

Today, Nordex USA, a leading manufacturer of wind energy turbines, announced plans to locate its US manufacturing facility in Jonesboro. Nordex will invest approximately $100 million in the new facility, which will employ 700 people at an average wage of $17.00 an hour. Green jobs that would have been ideal for our community, but they are going to Jonesboro instead. Jonesboro, Dan! Aren't we the Green Valley? We have I-540 and the University of Arkansas; Jonesboro has U.S. 63 and Arkansas State, and they are no closer to the Little Rock metropolitan area. . They don't have Dickson Street, new planter boxes around the square, spiffy new trails, the Walton Arts Center, or a sustainability coordinator. Hell, you can't even get a beer there, unless you're a member of the country club. We won't be making wind turbines, but you can bet our mayor will be making excuses.

What's your excuse this time, Dan? Tell us again what a great job you are doing and why we haven't had an economic development plan for the last eight years. Have your conflicted out-of-state consultant show us that $150,000 PowerPoint presentation again. Then tell us how many awards you have won, how many times you've been mentioned in slick national magazine, and how many good paying jobs have gone elsewhere in the last eight years.

Keep a good thing going, my ass. Going to Conway and Jonesboro.

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