Editor’s Note: “The Economic Development Side” originally appears in the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce’s weekly member e-newsletter. It is written by Rhonda Dishner, the Economic Development Alliance’s executive assistant.
It’s been a while since the topic of this column was our community area’s positives.
Thankfully, during that time, many of the negative perceptions have been addressed or refuted. The message is finally getting out that we live here because we like living here. And there are opportunities awaiting those who would also make this community their home. (But Census 2020 preparations are just around the corner—if not already begun—so hurry and let yourself be counted here!)
But, back to the positives. It is helpful and encouraging to keep naming them. Kind of like the hymn about counting one’s blessings. When the positives (and the blessings) are enumerated, it’s easier to see that the list is longer than expected.
Many attributes are counted as important by people of a city. That includes features such as housing, police and fire protection, roads, parks, medical care, shopping, schools and restaurants—all preferably preceded by the word “good” or “excellent.” Collectively, they contribute to a “quality” quality-of-life standard for current citizens and help draw new residents and visitors.
Economic development professionals value these same characteristics in their communities, too, because their job is to sell their communities to business and industrial prospects that would, in turn, further enhance the quality of life. Although hard to measure and subject to individual preferences, quality of life generally equates to well-being and being well. And it is greatly influenced by economic conditions.
Let’s be positive and say that some of these quality-of-life ingredients here are good, some are excellent, and some need a little improvement. But we are already working on those (so the topic may be revisited at a later date).
There are other positives that prospects find important when they are considering Jefferson County for new facilities, new jobs and new investments. And these advantages definitely can be classified as excellent. The list includes river, rail, highway and interstate transportation, as well as an airport; two fully-developed industrial parks with heavy utilities infrastructure; developable sites; geographic location in the center of the country; and scores of people who volunteer their time to assist with economic development efforts and making the community area better.
School’s back in session. The assignment this week: Begin mentally piling all the local positives on imaginary balance scales. Keep in mind that business prospects are doing this in a real sense every day. For the most part, they report finding the scales tipping toward the positive side. And that’s a good thing.