Timeline announced for Emerson hiring and opening
It has been just under a month since the announcement was made that the company Emerson would be bringing more than 200 jobs to Sharp County over the course of the next four years.
According to Graycen Bigger, with the Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Authority (NEAIA) said Emerson was working to release a schedule for applications, training and more.
“Right now we’re on schedule to complete the renovation and be open in the spring of 2021. I know a lot of people have been asking about the jobs and hiring process. All I can say is that we expect to start that in January with some initial assessments, talking to some candidates and seeing what training is needed,” Bigger said. “Ozarka College has been very active in that process and we have been working on workforce classes to make sure that people will have plenty of time to get the training they will need for some of the positions.”
Bigger said job descriptions would likely be released in January of 2021 and a partnership with Ozarka College and the NEAIA has been formed with plans to host job fairs and offer the appropriate training which will be needed.
“The initial projection is 248 jobs over the next four years and I think there is a lot of padding there to get to that number, but the hope and expectation is that they will have 100 people employed by the end of next year as they ramp up operations,” Bigger said.
When asked about the economic impact Emerson would have on Sharp and the surrounding counties, Bigger said the initial investment was approximately $35 million.
“The project itself is about a $35 million project and looking at payroll, that is not the number it will be in the first year, but when you start doing the math, it is well into the millions in annual payroll that will be in our local economy,” Bigger said. “One thing we love about manufacturing and the reason the state recruits manufacturing is we know that money turns over multiple times in a community and as the greatest impact of any industry.”
Bigger said Emerson is also working not only to provide competitive wages, but has a reputation of retaining employees and a low turnover rate.
“What I love about Emerson is that they’re not just thinking about the wages and they are going to be very competitive. They’re thinking about benefit packages. I can’t say much but they are going above and beyond to have benefits for their potential employees to make sure they’re comfortable and taken care of,” Bigger said.
The process to recruit Emerson began in January of this year and was a concerted effort.
“It was not a small effort. It was a team effort where the local real estate company has gone above and beyond putting in the money to market that property when no one was looking at it. They have been so involved. The city [Ash Flat] and county [Sharp County] have stepped up and done what they needed to do to fight for this project, not just against other communities in Arkansas, but globally to make sure it landed in Ash Flat.”
Bigger said the community has a lot to be proud of and it is likely Emerson will not be the only industry looking to come to the tri-county area.
“It’s not just a story about Emerson coming in. It’s really a story about bold leadership and you saw that on the private side with what FNBC did [contributing $250,000 to secure an industrial park] but you also saw it with the mayor of Ash Flat and the city council,” Bigger said. “…It goes to show I think when the right thing comes along people know it and they saw it as a turning point for this community.”
Bigger said with the industry coming to the area, the benefit will flow over to the surrounding area in a multitude of ways.
“I have no doubt Ash Flat is going to change for the better. It’s going to be a more stable community, a community where kids can see themselves staying after high school and that there is a gross trajectory for them to start and work their way up through a fortune 500 company which is an incredible things to say for a town of 1100 people,” Bigger said. “Honestly it’s not just Ash Flat. When we did the numbers on this, we did the research and the company did the research it’s not just Ash Flat or Sharp County. We know this is going to have a tremendous impact on Fulton, Izard and Lawrence counties as well. In some sense it’s going to call a lot of people home from Independence County every day.”
When asked if there would be longevity for the company in Sharp County, Bigger explained Emerson is a company which grows by acquisition.
Unlike changes which took place in Batesville decades ago when White-Rodgers was acquired and closed, the facility being placed in Ash Flat is an Emerson facility.
“Emerson is a company that grows by acquisition. They buy other companies and the companies that have been in our area they left ,were outside companies they acquired. For example Batesville was White-Rogers and they made strategic moves to consolidate operations but that’s not what is happening here,” Bigger said. “This is an Emerson facility and are actually consolidating companies they had purchased in other communities and states in order to have a better return to make things work and flow and to be closer to their suppliers and distribution. This is long term they are here to stay. “
Bigger said the location in Ash Flat was ideal for Emerson as it was close to their distribution facility and headquarters.
“I want people to understand they’re staying and we have to be smart about strategic growth. Another thing for people to think about is to be kind. We want to put our community in the best light because we have others looking at coming here and other suppliers so we want to put our best foot forward in Sharp County,” Bigger said.
Ash Flat Planning and Zoning approves plans for TSC
The Ash Flat Planning and Zoning Commission met Nov. 9 to review and approve the plans for Tractor Supply Company.
After approving the minutes from previous meetings, the commission moved on to discuss Tractor Supply Company.
“As all of you know, Tractor Supply Company is coming in and there are trucks out there,” Fred Goodwin said, as he presented the company’s plan.
The commission reviewed the plans for the incoming business and discussed how it might impact access to the city’s water tower.
The commission also discussed an additional water tower which may be placed on the property where Emerson will be located. Emerson would assume responsibility for placing the tower.
Margaret Steed made a motion to accept the plans for the construction of the Tractor Supply Company.
The motion received a second and was approved. Construction has since begun.
The commission also discussed the upcoming changes and relocation of the Wilson Law Firm.
The commission also discussed the anticipated influx of businesses with the incoming of Emerson.
Multiple properties have already been purchased with the uses yet to be determined.