Region 8 Looks Into Future Industrial Growth, Conway Gets HP

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Thursday's announcement that Hewlett Packard will set up a location in Conway came to the relief of many. The creation of thousands of jobs right in the heart of Central Arkansas.

This coming at a time when statewide, unemployment is up to 5.1 percent in May.

"Northeast Arkansas' economy is diverse and continues to grow and continues to do well," said Alan McVey, Director of the Delta Center for Economic Development.

Region 8 news asked Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe what the likelihood is that a company like Hewlett-Packard would settle in Northeast Arkansas.

"I'd like to be able to tell you some good news about economic opportunities for Northeast Arkansas. But, it's a sensitive process and a lot goes into it," said Beebe.

Beebe was on hand Friday, touring some of the region's expanding companies. He says when it comes to job creation, that's where the real focus should be ... companies already here.

"At the same time that we try to bring in new businesses we want to try to grow and expand existing businesses as well," he said.

Echoing that view, McVey says companies in Region 8 are growing.

"We've seen expansions that are taking place currently in the food processing industry and with Nestle's continued growth," said McVey. "We've seen continued growth within the steel-related industry."

There's one standout characteristic of Region 8's industries that McVey says is a saving grace in these volatile economic times.

"You see a lot of agricultural-related companies to steel-related companies. That diversity gives us the opportunity to weather some of the ups and downs of the economy rather than having large economic hits to one particular sector."

Questions or Comments? E-mail me at