POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Although industry is a good portion of the county's economy, most of the economy is agriculture based.
Is Poinsett County on the road to recovery, or simply holding it's own?
You ask county Judge Charles Nix if Poinsett County is on the road to recovery, and the answer is guardedly positive.
"I think we're hanging in there." Like any county, Nix goes on to say; There are ups and downs. "Some spots that you can see some optimism, and some spots that concern you--that's always the case."
A good way to tell how a county is doing is reflected in its sales tax collection.
Nix says, "You know our budget for the county has held up pretty good. Our sales tax has held up. Our income has held up with what expectations were."
Sales tax income means somebody is selling something. In an interview from earlier this year Marked Tree Mayor Dickson Chandler said the new sports complex in Marked Tree will draw in lots of visitors with money to spend. "On Game days when they play out here. McDonald's and Subway they're full. "
And, just recently, Marked Tree was the recipient of more good news. Memphis-based Awesome Products announced its intentions to put a bleach factory in the old Mid-South Manufacturing building with possibly as many as 300 eventual jobs.
Another step forward on the road to recovery for Poinsett County is the opening of the Rusken Packaging Company here in Harrisburg. They make boxes--lots and lots of boxes.
There are 7 Flex-O-Folder Glue machines in the old American Greetings plant with about 40 current employees.
General Manager Roy Painter showed me around the plant. Half of the old building was lit up and occupied by fast moving machines. Each employee was hard at work in this intensely manual/automatic operation. Painter says, "We came from Jonesboro last November with 10 or 12 people and pretty much tripled it since then."
Painter also says their workforce will never be huge but that is pretty standard for a box company. The installation of a planned corrugators machine is expected to take up the other half of the factory and bring in many workers when production goes up accordingly.
"By this time next year, we should be at 120, 130 people."
If you base Ruskens investment on the output, it sounds like they are in for a long run. All of which will be good for the towns and the county.
You could look at Poinsett County as on the road to recovery or just hanging in there, which is not a bad thing.