County officials meet with congressman, senators to make changes - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

County officials meet with congressman, senators to make changes

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -More jobs equals more people for a small community.  Job loss in Clay County over the past decade has led some to leave the area.   With the economy still in recovery, many counties and cities are working to attract new businesses.  That's why representatives from Clay County recently made a trip to Washington D.C. to talk about what they need for their community and to find out what they can do to attract businesses.

"Economic development is what everyone is concerned about," said Corning Chamber of Commerce Director Barry Sellers.  In the first half of the last decade this area took a big hit.

"They lost three of the four largest employers in an eight year period, 800 jobs," said Sellers.

With a loss in jobs, Clay County also experienced a loss in people.  16,000 people live in Clay County, with 4,000 in Corning.

"What we've done in the last two or three years is kind of, what they say, stop the bleeding," said Sellers.

David Taylor's family started Red Taylor Ford 35 years ago.  Over the past three and a half decades, he has seen a lot of changes.

"We've seen cars go from $5,000 and $6,000 to $50,000," said Taylor.

He would like to see more jobs come to the area.  To make that happen, area leaders have to find a way to be heard.  That's why, instead of presenting themselves as individual communities, they're doing it as a group.

"12 people yell louder than one and if you can get a group to work together and they all yell the same chorus then they're going to be heard better than just one or two people," said Sellers.

Sellers and a group of people from Clay County and surrounding areas took their concerns to senators and congressmen from Arkansas and Missouri.

"This is the first time the city, county or really the region has been represented in this way," said Sellers.

Sellers said they currently have three industrial prospects for Corning.

"If we get a factory in Corning, that's going to be good for Piggott and Rector and vice versa," said Sellers.

"We've got to get our name out there we've got to let people know that we can supply the workforce and they can hire dependable working folks," said Taylor.

Sellers said while they talked with lawmakers in Washington about economic development, they also talked about ways to attract that development.  He said a big part of that is finishing the Highway 67 project.

"It is just terribly imperative economic development wise to get this four lane system through here," said Sellers.

Sellers said they also discussed options for getting incentives they can offer the industries that are looking at the area to encourage them to come to Clay County.

In addition, Corning Mayor Dewayne Phelan, Blake Johnson, Matt Woolard, and Tom Lawson made the trip to Washington D.C.  While there they met with the delegation for Arkansas Congressman Rick Crawford and Senators John Boozman and Mark Pryor.  They also met with Missouri Congresswoman JoAnne Emerson and Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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