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Sevier County experienced job growth in 2018

Sevier County experienced job growth in 2018

January 10th, 2019 by Gazette Staff in Texarkana News

Sevier County, Ark., experienced job growth in 2018 and an increase in resident participation.

"In 2018, experienced leaders emerged, a few businesses have opened or expanded, and the region is following the path to achieving greatness in 2019," said Lisa Taylor, Sevier County Economic Development Director, who was hired in January
2018.

"I have nearly 20 years of experience in community and economic development," said Taylor.

As the Economic Development director, I have also been designated by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission as the
community editor and property manager for economic development
activity in Sevier County. During her first year, she coordinated a county-wide planning effort that resulted in the creation of community goals and related committees, she
said.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Jay Bunyard, president of Bunyard Broadcasting, Inc., to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in February 2018. Bunyard is the first Sevier County resident to ever be appointed to the AEDC,
said Taylor.

"The commission works to create economic opportunity by attracting higher paying jobs, expanding and diversifying our state and local economies, increasing incomes and investment, and generating positive growth throughout Arkansas. Bunyard will serve a four year term, Taylor said.

Suzanne Babb is the new executive director for the De Queen Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.

"Babb, a long time business owner, is organized, and understands the purpose of the chamber of commerce. Since her hiring at the end of September, the chamber has experienced growth in new memberships, and the organization has refocused on developing opportunities and resources for local businesses," said Taylor.

AMS Global Inc. relocated to De Queen, Ark. from Texas in April 2018. The company has about 20 full-time skilled employees, and expects more growth in 2019.

The company has years of experience in manufacturing, marketing, selling restroom trailers, shower trailers and a wide array of products
designed to provide unique solutions to sanitation challenges across multiple industries and
applications.

The distribution
also has an automatic livestock feeder division that has shown a steady increase in sales since starting production in 2013. Their products
are shipped worldwide, and they do not depend upon the local economy for sales. Since moving the operation to Arkansas,
AMS Global Inc. has experienced substantial growth, and according to their vice president, they have experienced their best year in manufacturing
since their inception. AMS Global Inc. currently has custom orders that will keep them busy well into 2019, and they expect additional growth in 2020, said Taylor.

Conquest Industrial Services was a new startup in spring 2018 that provides maintenance and repair to lumber mills. Their services include welding, millwright and equipment installation. Since
opening in April 2018, Conquest Industrial Services has already grown to twenty-two employees, and currently has work lined up throughout the United States.

Dr. Randy D. Walker, MD, PLLC, in De Queen, AR is currently undergoing an expansion. This expansion will add two additional providers to meet health and behavioral needs, six new employees, 2,000 square feet, five additional exam rooms, and additional medical services and equipment. At this time, Dr. Walker employs 36 skilled workers.

UA Cossatot in 2018 officially opened the Lockesburg Industrial Maintenance Institute in the historic 1952 Lockesburg High School
building.

This institute now serves more than 80 high school and college students each semester. These students come from all over
the four-county UA Cossatot service area. UA Cossatot and their industry, state and local partners have invested over $600,000 in the Lockesburg
community.

"Small business is equally important in our community, and has also seen some growth in 2018. During the past twelve months, our county has added several new restaurants, a few retail stores, and sixteen new chicken houses," Taylor said.

As one of the 85 Census Tracts in Arkansas designated as an Opportunity Zone by Gov. Hutchinson in 2018, De Queen will be in a better position to recruit potential investors to Sevier County," she
said.

Established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones provide tax incentives for private investment in low-income communities nationwide.

"The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Extension Community and Economic Development announced the selection of our tri-county region (Little River, Howard and Sevier Counties) for participation in
CREATE BRIDGES (Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism, and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies), a program designed to build up rural economies.
Ours was one of only two regions selected to participate in the State of Arkansas," Taylor
said.

Healthcare Express purchased property in De Queen, during the summer, where they are currently building a new urgent care facility. Healthcare Express is expected to open January 7, 2019, and will provide skilled jobs for ten people upon opening, with plans for future
growth.

"For the first time in a very long time, residents of the county are involved in discussions about
the future, and they are taking action by serving on committees, attending public meetings, and engaging with elected
officials.

2018 saw Sevier county elected officials, local boards, and citizens come together to solve ongoing concerns within the community.

This has led to no fewer than 20 new leaders who have emerged to spearhead the latest economic development efforts of the county," Taylor
said.

"Our county will prosper as one community, in ways that we could not succeed should we try to do so individually," said Taylor. "It's a great time to be working together."

For more information about how you can get involved in community and economic development efforts, contact Taylor, Sevier County Economic Development Director at ltaylor@cccua.edu or (870) 279-5937.

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