Earlier this week, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission announced an expansion by the Southworth Products Corporation at its facility in manila (Mississippi County). The company is creating 35 new jobs and investing $935,000. Its incentive package consisted of Cash Back sales tax incentives, Advantage Arkansas job creation incentives, and state and local community development block grants of $350,000 each. (See Arkansas Business coverage.)
Today's column by Chris Bahn in the Democrat-Gazette commented on the award, observing that while smaller projects may not grab headlines, they are still highly valuable, and particularly so in rural areas without many employment opportunities: "So the addition of 35 jobs in a town of 3,200, most of whom commute to neighboring towns for work, matters. It's why you saw Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston on hand to deliver news that Southworth, which already employs about 140 people, would expand."
That sentiment is exactly on point. A business that is growing should obtain incentives. While megaprojects with hundreds of jobs may grab headlines, bread-and-butter expansions with tens of new jobs can obtain significant incentives. For example, Southworth's grants alone in this package are worth $20,000 per new job, plus the sales tax and income tax relief from the Cash Back and Advantage Arkansas programs. In addition, there is the intangible benefit of developing a partnership with state and local officials through an incentives project. Growing Arkansas businesses are generally well served to consider formalizing their expansion plans and seeking state and local incentives.