Task force to seek Boeing replacement

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Melbourne Mayor Mike Cone and the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce have appointed a task force to deal with the fallout of the planned closing of the Boeing plant in Melbourne.

The first meeting of the Central Ozarks Task Force for Economic Development was held Feb. 23. Task force members include Randy Zook and Arlen Marsyla of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, state Sen. Paul Miller, Izard County Justice James Elbert, Randy Scaggs of Ozarka College, John Harguess of the Melbourne City Council and Karla Rush from the Melbourne Industrial Development Corporation.

"Our mission is to recruit industry to replace Boeing in Melbourne," Rush said.

Zook said the task force is currently setting its agenda and preliminary plans.

Rush said a new industry does not necessarily have to take the building that Boeing currently owns. Rush said Boeing may sell the building through its real estate wing.

Zook said it is possible Boeing will donate the building to the community. He said he has seen this happen in a number of places when a company ceases to use a facility.

"One of the biggest selling points is that it's a wonderful building," Rush said. She said the facility is state of the art and Melbourne has plenty of skilled workers. She also said the quality of life in Melbourne is outstanding and it is a community with good local schools.

Zook said companies which are Boeing suppliers could be a good fit for the facility. He said the 100,000-square-foot facility is a good fit for companies involved in aerospace and auto manufacturing. "We want to find the right one and make a marriage," he said.

"This will be a networking process," Zook said.

"We've got a skilled and in-place workforce and an excellent, flexible manufacturing facility," Zook said, adding that the task force just needs to find the company to fill it.

Those who have suggestions for possible business prospects or prospects can contact Zook at 870-373-1721 or any task force committee member.

Zook said Boeing has set April 14 as the target date for closing the facility.

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