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.

The Alliance’s director of economic development, Caleb McMahon, made some important contacts for local economic development efforts during a visit to Northwest Arkansas in mid-October.

He made a one-day trip to Bentonville specifically to hear speeches by key directors of Kuehne+Nagel, one of the world’s leading logistics companies. The forum was sponsored by the World Trade Center Arkansas, headquartered at Rogers.

Based in Switzerland and with multiple offices in the United States, Kuehne+Nagel can be important to Pine Bluff because it helps manufacturing companies more easily import large-scale process equipment from international sources. It also specializes in getting “Made in America” designations for companies.

At least two foreign-owned companies are considering adding manufacturing equipment to their local operations. On their behalf, McMahon got in touch with Kuehne+Nagel for advice on importing equipment and raw materials, taxation, and obtaining the “Made in the USA” label. Coincidentally, Kuehne+Nagel reported to him that an upcoming Arkansas event would answer all his questions, and McMahon was invited to attend.

In addition to the information gained from the forum and the opportunity to meet the presentation team, McMahon also was able to set up a subsequent Nov. 17 meeting in Little Rock between Kuehne+Nagel representatives and corporate executives of one of the international companies seriously considering expanding its Pine Bluff operations.

That meeting went exceptionally well, McMahon reports, and possibly was just the first of many as more international businesses look at making capital investments in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.

The right connections can play a pivotal role in making those projects happen.