Region 8 Road Trip: Corning economy on the way back up

CORNING, AR (KAIT) – The past ten years have brought some up's and down's for residents in Corning.

Big job losses in the early part of the decade forced some changes in the way they do business but now leaders say they're on the right track.

"Corning lost three of their four largest employers for of a total of about 800 jobs which was devastating for Corning," said Corning Chamber of Commerce Director Barry Sellers.

Sellers said losing 800 jobs in eight years was devastating for Corning.  But in the past five years, he and city leaders have tried to reverse that trend.

"I think the drop off in jobs has stopped considerably.  We are in the process of having several new businesses open up in Corning and every business brings in a handful of jobs and every handful counts," said Mayor Dewayne Phelan.

"What we've tried to do in the last four years is stop the bleeding of the job loss people loss," said Sellers.

That has led to what Sellers calls their business retention and expansion plan.

"Visit our existing industries and businesses find out before they have problems and issues before they might consider moving," said Sellers.

Mayor Dewayne Phelan said the city is constantly working to bring in businesses.  While big employers are attractive, the smaller companies better fit the city's plan.

"If something would happen and you would lose one of those you have only lost about ten jobs which we can recuperate from that and we can find places for those people," said Phelan.

Many have been left recuperating in recent months, after historic flooding hit Region 8.

"We were protected very well," said Phelan.

Phelan said while the flooding didn't have a direct impact on the town, it did affect the local farmers.

"Agriculture is our largest business around this area and in the entire Clay County.  A lot of them had crops in the ground at that time rice especially," said Phelan.

While some were able to whether the storm, others were not so lucky.

"They're probably at least a month behind in planting.  You'll see more soy beans planted than ever because they can be planted later and harvested later than some of the other crops," said Sellers.

There are other things on the horizon for Corning.  Phelan says they've had several businesses open up so far this year and there are several more slated to open up this fall.  This week Sellers said they showed one of their buildings to a company looking at locating in Corning.

Sellers tells Region 8 News they have 10 "big" businesses in town.  They consider a big business to be any company that employees 100 or more people.

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