Newport business incentives spearhead growth

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback


Even though you may have a great idea for an industry or a business you may need a little help to get it going.

Tonight one Region Eight city is providing that help.

It's attracting new businesses and helping current businesses look attractive-- all in an effort to reject the recession!

The city of Newport, through it's Economic Development Commission, is offering grants and loans to help bring businesses to Newport. And to help current businesses stay viable in today's economy.

So far, it seems to be paying off.

Jon Chadwell, the Executive Director of the Newport Economic Development Commission echoes what is happening across many small towns in Arkansas and Region 8 .

"We are beginning to feel some of the pressure from the recession, unemployment's up a little bit over what it was last year. "

But there is good news as well.

Sales tax figures show there is money being spent in town.

Over 11 percent from last year. And this money comes from local businesses both old and new.

The EDC is offering a couple of incentives for businesses. One is a forgivable loan used primarily for industry for job creation.

Chadwell, "We loan them x number of dollars and they can either pay that money back by creating jobs or they can pay that money back in cash and the end of our contract if they have not been able to create the jobs. "

A new program this year is the Re-Newport grant for small business, new or existing.

The new Sears hometown store owned by Lauren and Jeff Sampson took advantage of the grant.

Lauren Sampson, "Their whole objective was to make the town look better. Improve the appearance, so we could have used it on signs, parking lot, landscaping anything like that. "

The Re-Newport grant is not large but it was enough to help the sampsons add chat to their drive way.

Chadwell says he would like to see a lot of businesses in the old part of downtown. He says it's good but it could be a lot better.

Keith McAnally and his brother Robbie Howard were hard at work getting ready to open McAnallys' Oyster Bar and Grill restaurant where the old Depot and Brick room restaurant used to be. Keith said they passed on the incentive offer.

"We had the option to us but we didn't really need that. You know they bent over backwards to cooperate with them and we'd to give something back to them. "

McAnally says he plans to open up in August.

Neither business owner that I spoke with seemed to be too concerned about the present economy.

The Sampsons said their business was booming and Keith McAnally said they had great expectations, he called it "Standing in tall cotton."

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