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 Cowboys lost but the economic developers won.
The game on the playing field in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 8, was NFL professional football. Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys battled the Green Bay Packers in a nail-biter that ended in a last minute 35-31 loss by the Cowboys.
Action in the box suite high above the gridiron was professional community marketing, and Pine Bluff/Jefferson County had a participant who was game for the challenge. Our community’s representative: Lou Ann Nisbett of the Economic Development Alliance. Her challenge: Speak with as many decision-makers as possible about our state with the goal of attracting projects and new jobs.
Attendance at the concurrent activities—the football game and the marketing event—was sponsored by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) with the objective of developing and strengthening relationships with site-location consultants from the Dallas market.
Tens of thousands of fans packed AT&T Stadium for the football game. The total number of senior management-level consultants attending the Arkansas Economic Development 2017 Dallas Marketing Event was about evenly matched by attendees from Arkansas. That included AEDC staffers and representatives of economic development organizations from numerous Arkansas community areas, chambers of commerce and utility companies.
AEDC team members wore their Arkansas Inc. blue polo shirts. City and county representatives from all around the state wore community-branded clothing or sported name tags identifying their hometown areas.
The Alliance’s Nisbett reports having the opportunity of visiting with several consultants she’s worked with in the past, as well as making new contacts. One site selector brought along two prospects from the East Coast, she says, and both heard details about Jefferson County after being introduced to Nisbett. Another consultant, it turns out, even attended the same Texas high school as Nisbett (although more than a decade later).
Making connections was the Sunday game plan for the attending economic developers. The Monday morning recap showed points scored and the potential for additional points later. And that goes in the win column for Arkansas.