TEXARKANA — Regional economic development organization AR-TX REDI has produced a pair of videos promoting "megasites" available for industry on either side of the state line.
Not yet published, the videos will soon be available for viewing on new websites being created specifically to market land bought by local governments in partnership with REDI as incentive for major new employers in the region. REDI also plans to send them to site selectors and corporate executives and use them in planned social media campaigns.
Each about 90 seconds long, the videos use maps and aerial photography with superimposed graphics to tout the advantages of the locations, including transportation infrastructure, utility availability and pricing, and proximity to major cities within 300 miles.
Last spring REDI, the cities of Hooks and New Boston, and Bowie County, Texas, spent $1.5 million on 847 acres of land near Red River Army Depot. In the fall, the Arkansas side followed suit when the Texarkana, Arkansas, Public Facilities Board agreed to buy a 1,300-acre-plus tract for more than $4 million, funded by bond issues, and lease it to the city and Miller County.
In both cases, the plan is to offer the land at no cost to businesses locating operations there. REDI is marketing the Texas site to shipping and logistics businesses and the Arkansas site to heavy industrial manufacturers.
Both are undergoing a certification process meant to uncover and then remedy any problems, which will give businesses confidence to spend tens of millions of dollars developing the land. Completion of certification is very close, REDI President and CEO Rob Sitterley said Wednesday.
At the Texas site, tasks such as environmental and wetland-mapping studies are done, and Sitterley expects a firm called Global Location Strategies to finish its certification this week or next week. The Arkansas site is at an earlier stage of the process but progress is steady and certification is expected to be completed this spring.
Sale of timber harvested by clearing the Texas site funded its certification, and Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas is certifying the Arkansas site at its own expense.
Sitterley is optimistic that having the land to offer will produce results.
"I'm bullish on that we've got some incredible sites, and we've got an amazing community from workforce to education to just location.
"We didn't have property to show before, so now that we do, we can get in a whole lot of projects that we never could before. So we actually have an asset in hand now in both states, and it's just a matter of time before we win something hopefully large," he said.