Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Arkansas on the move

Economic development continues to be a hot topic around the capitol. Maria Haley, the new director of the State Economic Development Commission has been talking to lawmakers, as has Mike Maulden of Entergy.

Maulden? Where have we heard that name before?

Anyway, there is great promise and great risk in these discussions that often wind up spending rather substantial sums of your money to bring in plants that promise lots of jobs. It is not such a bad idea, but Alabama is going to get the short end of that billion-dollar gift to a German steel manufacturer to locate in lovely Mobile. What will they do if the jobs fail to materialize in the vast numbers predicted, or the plant closes in 20 years? At least, as things now stand, Arkansas is not on the hook for vast amounts if things go wrong. It is a gamble, after all.

Ms. Haley has said that industrial recruiters have not been considering Arkansas. I bet that comes to as a big surprise to former Governor Mike Huckabee who was sure Toyota was set to locate in Marion. They certainly considered it.

Remember that these big state handouts are in the utility company’s best interest. If they want more industrial development, why not lower electric rates?

Our improving public school system is still Arkansas’ most potent economic development tool.

(Broadcast June 12, 2007)

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