At Least 300 New Jobs Coming to Region 8

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) -- On the heels of one plant announcing its closure another company is coming into Blytheville, bringing with it three hundred jobs and the promise of more in the future.

Aviation Repair Technologies will open a facility in the Arkansas Aeroplex at the old Eaker Air Force base that will do airframe and engine repair.

At the announcement on Wednesday, Clif Chitwood with the Great River Economic Development Foundation said this is a big accomplishment for the area.

"In phase one it will employ over 300 people and in phase two will employ another 140 people," said Chitwood.

Chitwood said the company will do everything from repair jet engines to re upholster seats in airplanes.

For Blytheville Mayor Barrett Harrison, this is taking a load off the shoulders of the city.  Recently it was announced that 300 jobs will be lost at Milwaukee Electric Tool and now another three hundred are coming into town.

"It will be more good paying jobs coming to Blytheville and Mississippi County and they need to take advantage of it.  The counties that surround us and anyone in those counties that are looking for good paying jobs with good benefits, this is the place to be," said Harrison.

He said not only is this community attracting industry, all of the industries in Mississippi County are hiring, and many hope this new company is one that will be able to expand in the future.

"We've been working for so long to attract an anchor type industry that will be in the position to bring others with it," said Harrison.

And one way they've attracted this industry is through incentives.  Those incentives are supplied thanks to a county wide half cent sales tax.

"Without this tax we wouldn't have this project or most of the projects that we have announced.  Today we go over 2,500 new industrial jobs in four years," said Chitwood.

"This particular industry has been offered a local incentive of $2,175,000," said County Judge Steve McGuire.

Judge McGuire says one million one hundred seventy five thousand of that will be given to the company in 2009 and over the next nine years the county will pay the Aeroplex rent for the company.

Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville is going to be working with the community to help train future employees of this new company.  They are currently in the process of developing a curriculum for an aircraft maintenance degree and they hope to have that available in the next year.