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.

I’ll be brief this week. Honestly, so much economic development work is being attended to at the Alliance lately that there’s hardly time to stop and write a column about doing economic development work!

It’s always a positive trend when the phone rings pretty much daily with clients interested in Pine Bluff/Jefferson County buildings or industrial sites for potential new companies. No, make that when three phones are ringing with said prospect calls.

Mobile phones are such great tools for conducting economic development business any time of the day or night. And some callers still make use of our conventional landline communications device during business hours.

Bring it on. We love it when “they” call or visit. We enjoy talking about our community’s assets and all the development activity taking place downtown and in our industrial parks.

It is also good news that at least five existing industries currently are in various stages of planning for expansions. That means new jobs in the near future and millions of dollars in capital investments. It’s hoped these plans for expansions can be made public soon. The Alliance is also hopeful that potential projects ongoing from the past few years finally will come together in 2018 and further add to the good economic news.

The combination of dozens of manufacturing companies here, planned expansions by several of them, as well as possible new companies locating here form the basis for another concentrated Alliance focus right now. That focus is supporting skills development and training for the workforce.

Helping in the retention of existing jobs, assisting industries as they create new jobs, and making sure the workforce is ready for those jobs. That’s a typical day’s work at the Alliance. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.