"Our mission is to lead statewide economic development, create targeted strategies which produce better paying jobs, promote communities and support the training and growth of a 21st century skilled workforce," said Doty.
To do that, the agency follows the five economic development goals set by Governor Mike Beebe. Those goals are:
1) to increase the incomes of Arkansans at a growth pace greater than the national average,
2) expand entrepreneurship and have a retention strategy to decrease plant closures,
3) compete more effectively with neighboring states for new business and new jobs,
4) our economic development policy will meet the special needs and take advantage of the special assets of various areas of the state,
5) and increase the number of workers with post secondary training so they are ready for a job when they enter the workforce and are prepared for new jobs in the future.
"At the AEDC, we believe that education and economic development are inseparable, and that communities are the lifeblood of all economic development, which has to be looked at globally, not just statewide," said Doty.
The AEDC has targeted four industries to pursue for jobs in Arkansas: Growth Manufacturing, Technology, Clean, Green and Sustainable, and other opportunities such as non-profit headquarters, regional headquarters and tourism.
Doty stated that the top ten selection factors that most businesses are looking for when deciding where to locate are: highway accessibility, state and local incentives, labor costs, availability of land, availability of skilled labor, cost of land, proximity to major markets, occupancy or construction costs, tax exemptions, availability of high speed internet access and availability of telecommunications services. However, companies also look at the top quality of life factors, including ratings of public schools, colleges and universities in the area, low crime rate, housing costs, health facilities, housing availability, cultural opportunities, recreational opportunities and climate.
According to information provided by the AEDC's Site Selection Center, online at www.arkansassiteselection.com/aedc/, Fulton County's biggest industries are educational services and healthcare and social assistance.
Doty concluded her presentation by encouraging the chamber to establish one local contact for economic development, develop local incentives and a Web site to specifically market industry in the area and to utilize the site selection center to make businesses aware of the opportunities in the area.
In other business, Mammoth Spring Mayor Jean Pace announced that the Chamber would be recieving $400 in grant money to off-set the $1,000 the Chamber paid to have the Art Mobile stop in Mammoth Spring.
Rose Pierce updated the Chamber regarding the upcoming Solemn Old Judge Days, saying the committee has been working on getting all of the vendor and display spaces downtown. Mayor Pace noted that a gospel group and hopefully the Fulton County Rangers would be providing the musical entertainment.
"Another thing I'm working on is to get us our own train like FNBC has," said Pace. "There will be some expense to that, but I have the barrels and I've asked Steve Atkins about his old lawn mowers. It would be good for us, for the chamber, to have our own and to use it in all of our parades. We can use it for a lot of things. It shouldn't cost very much. I will contact the man who built the one for FNBC and see if he will give us some technical advice."
The Solemn Old Judge Days committee will meet on July 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Fred's Fish House. "We welcome any input on things that we need to do along with suggestions," said Pierce.
Chamber President Steve Russell informed the group that the sceneries used at the high school for plays have been disassembled, so they would not be available to use for the annual play. "A year or two ago I came across a company that sold the scenes on canvas and you could just hang them up," said Russell. "I don't remember what the cost was. You could pick just about any scene that you wanted, to serve as the background for your play, and I don't think it was too expensive."
Russell agreed to look into the company and report back to the Solemn Old Judge Days Committee.
Mayor Pace reported on the Ozarka enrollment for classes in the fall. "We've had a really good response to the Ozarka classes," said Pace. "We have people at City Hall Monday through Thursday talking with folks about financial aid and the classes available. They have proposed two nursing classes. They will offer math for nurses and a dietician course."
Pace said the classes are being offered to traditional and non-traditional students. "A lot of the people who have come in, have been non-traditional students; people who have been out of school for a long time," said Pace.
"I am really encouraged that Ozarka is so interested in educating our citizens," said Russell.
Chamber Vice-President, Glynda Pryor, reported on the Holiday Home Tour plans. "We're going to go with five houses this year," said Pryor. "If we get six that would be great, but we'd like to have at least five. We don't care which town they're in, but we'll have one ticket for $10 dollars; that way it's simple for everyone. We won't have refreshments this year because we didn't think that added much to it last year. We have two homes for sure already and we have two stand-by's, that will participate this year if needed."
In other business, it was announced that Drury University is now registering students for the Fall semester. Classes are held at the Thayer High School and those interested in attending can call 417-280-6150 or e-mail email@example.com for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Carla Cash, Marketing Director for Fulton County Hospital, announced that Dr. Madhulika Krish will be starting on July 19. "The old Health Department building has been completely gutted and remodeled for her and for Dr. Saab, who is coming in August," said Cash. "She is a family practitioner from Dequeen, Ark., and received her training in Philadelphia."
With that, the Chamber adjourned. The next meeting of the Chamber will be on Aug. 12 at Fred's Fish House at noon.