NE Arkansas Not Ready for "SUPER PROJECTS"

May 28, 2007--Posted at 10:55 a.m. CDT

BLYTHEVILLE, AR--A northeast Arkansas economic development official says surrounding states that landed a Toyota plant and a steel mill belong to a "league in which Arkansas is not presently equipped to compete." Clif Chitwood, a top official with the Great River Economic Development Area, says the state's "superprojects" amendment remains "too restrictive."

The 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment allows the state to offer up to 5 percent of general revenues for projects bringing at least 500 news jobs and more than 500 (m) million dollars in investments. Instead, Chitwood says the bond market would be a better limiting factor, as it would not allow a state to take on excessive debt in pursuit of projects like ThyssenKrupp A-G's three (b) billion dollar steel mill and Toyota's one-point-three (b) billion dollar plant.

Those projects ended up going to Alabama and Mississippi. Chitwood says distance played the most part in ThyssenKrupp's decision to not come to Arkansas, while other states that already had automobile plants used their recouped investments to draw manufacturers.