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Economic Development Behind the Scenes

Posted by: rlaccmarcom on Friday, September 18, 2009
Economic development is a vague concept for the general public, at best.

Better defined as business development, or the dynamic process of recruiting new businesses and assisting to existing businesses, it begins to make sense. Try this on for size: economic development equals new businesses, new customers and new residents which actively contribute to our community's quality of life, i.e. all the things that make Northwest Arkansas a fantastic place to live, work and play.

Economic development is one of the most effective things we can do for the community as a chamber of commerce, and yet it is often the least understood and definitely the most poorly communicated. That's because we can't always say what we're doing when we're doing it.

So, in the spirit of transparency as best we can offer it, this recent information we've shared with our executive committee of the board of directors might be of interest:

Economic Development Report (YTD Aug. 2009)

Small Business Outreach

- Assisted 46 businesses.
- Most inquiries related to business licensing, permitting, how to structure a business.
- Many referrals to experts in the field, i.e. SCORE, the Small Business Administration, SBTDC.
- Economic environment has led many to take the leap to start a business after years of considering it.
- Types of inquires range from handyman services, restaurants and auto repair/detail (most popular) to training/consulting, franchises and child care operations.

Workforce Recruitment/Retention

- Served 100+ job seekers.
- Assistance includes resume review/updating, referrals to job banks and career resources and orientation to job seeking tools such as LinkedIn.
- Materials (magazines, DVDs, maps) and resources (community tours) offered to area employers to assist in efforts to attract and retain the best and brightest for Northwest Arkansas.

Minority Business Outreach

- Served 30 start-up inquiries and 143 job seekers.
- Supported 133 individuals with permits, forms, licensing, health department compliance and translation.
- Assisted 18 individuals with MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) Certification.
- Provided Spanish and English language courses to 60 individuals.

Business Recruitment/Expansion

- Responded to 75 inquiries from prospective/existing companies.
- Many inquiries are related to data and demographics, but an average of 3 - 5 inquiries a month seeking the opportunity to locate or expand in our community.
- Efforts continue in downtown Rogers, with assistance provided to companies such as Enformix (www.enformix.com) and Rolando's restaurant (www.rolandosrestaurante.com) with their new downtown locations.

It may not be the most exciting thing we do in terms of the attention span of the general public, but it is one of the most important and valuable things we do every day toward our goal of growing business, building community.

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