AEDC Designates Little Rock as its Newest 'Competitive Community'
Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and local officials today announced Little Rock has completed the Competitive Communities Initiative (CCI) evaluation that aims to ensure the city’s preparedness to successfully compete for jobs and investments.
“The capitol city continues to progress and grow its economic development efforts,” said AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston, “by focusing on its strengths and setting itself apart from other similar cities in surrounding states. Little Rock has defined qualities and appealing amenities that will continue to attract business and industry leaders from across the nation and the globe. When one of our communities wins an expansion or relocation project, all of Arkansas benefits.”
The program is designed to identify ways a community can be more competitive with regard to their economic development organizational structure, their economic development funding, their workforce, and their product readiness.
“Preparation is key to being competitive in economic development” said Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., “Little Rock is poised to attract and retain businesses, as well as creating an innovative environment where both large and small businesses can grow. Thank you to the Little Rock Regional Chamber for helping Little Rock achieve this designation.”
“Having Little Rock attain the CCI designation will help Pulaski County contend on a global scale for new businesses,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde. “Little Rock is the county seat and largest city in Arkansas, their success will benefit the county and the state.”
“In today’s competitive marketplace, we must be able to be adapt to the ever-changing economic landscape,” said Little Rock Regional Chamber President & CEO Jay Chesshir. “Having the CCI designation will help Little Rock contend for economic development projects as well as help us achieve our MetRock 2020 strategic plan goals.”
Best practices in the field of economic development were used to determine the standards for the Competitive Communities Initiative. A structured and funded economic development organization is imperative, whether it’s focused on a particular town or a whole county, with a strong chamber of commerce partnership. Additionally, there must be a skilled workforce ready to fill jobs and a pipeline of ready workers in the future. Finally, sites should have appropriate infrastructure fit-for-purpose, according to the size of the community and targeted industries, or a plan to provide utilities to the site.
The evaluation for a particular community begins with a commitment to complete an initial questionnaire detailing existing workforce, available and shovel-ready sites, funding sources and information from the community’s economic development organization.
A team of evaluators from AEDC and its partners uses the information to help communities better understand any gaps or weaknesses that could negatively affect economic growth. With assistance from all stakeholders, communities can begin creating an action plan to improve areas that are lacking in their economic development efforts. Once the four pillars are up to standard, a community will be designated through the program as a Competitive Community.
As part of the initiative, Competitive Communities will be featured throughout AEDC marketing efforts. Little Rock makes the fifth to be designated as such, including Paragould, Newport, Russellville and Jonesboro. Competitive Communities in Arkansas must undergo a re-evaluation every two years to maintain their designation.
For more information on the AEDC Competitive Communities Initiative, visit www.arkansasedc.com/cci or call 1-800-ARKANSAS.