City of Harrison, Ark. discovers obstacles to economic development grants

HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) – In July, Harrison City Council looked to approve its first economic development grant to a business in the city limits. Instead, the council came back on awarding their first grant after discovering of additional state regulations involving city funds and private businesses.

The most significant change with the additional regulations; in order for a business to be awarded a grant they have to fall within eight outline categories, which are as follows:

The Arkansas Constitution defines “economic development projects” and “economic development services” very specifically.

“Economic development projects” means the land, buildings, furnishings, equipment, facilities, “infrastructure”, and improvements that are required or suitable for the development, retention, or expansion of: (a) Manufacturing, production, and industrial facilities; (b) Research, technology, and development facilities; (c) Recycling facilities; (d) Distribution centers; (e) Call centers; (N) Warehouse facilities; (g) Job training facilities; (h) Regional or national corporate headquarters facilities; and (;) Sports complexes designed to host local, state, regional, and national competitions, including without limitation baseball, softball, and other sports tournaments.

“When you look at the eight different categories that the state law indicates, the main one is manufacturing And that’s what we’re hoping to do now with this, is to encourage our local manufactures to enlarge,” said Mayor Jerry Jackson on Monday. “That is probably our main economy is industry. We are a manufacturing town.”

Jamie Akers, the owner of multiple restaurants in Harrison, was seeking approval for new ventures, including expanding one restaurant to a new facility along US 65 on the north side of Harrison.

“The city did not have their stuff together and wasn’t organized,” said Akers. “Bottom line was, the city is still held by state standards when it comes to economic development. We fell under some requirements in terms of employment, but not manufacturing, with new businesses we’re currently in the works on could later allow us to become eligible.”

Major Jackson told KY3 he felt terrible about the obstacles in the early application period.

“I think he felt bad about that. I know I felt bad because it was just unfortunate for him,” said Jackson. “If he were aware of those additional regulations ahead of time he probably would’ve never applied and we’re working to make sure businesses are aware of all of those.”

As of Monday, no grants have been approved for businesses, but several are awaiting approval.

““If we get approved, first things first, is definitely purchasing the equipment to upscale the wholesale products since we have the Walmart account,” said Floy Goodwin with The Dude by Hrafn. “Also to grow nation-wide and bring more economic employment.”

The Dude is a clothing retail front currently in a period of transition to focus on wholesale goods, primarily men’s skincare products. Goodwin says the transition will be taking place over the next two-to-three months and will result in increased employment.

“Harrison has always had the huge potential to grow, so with this, it’s really going to allow small businesses to really make an impact in their environment,” she said.

This is the first time the city of Harrison has approved a fund for economic development. For details on how to apply, you can reach out to the office of the mayor at (870) 741-2777 or via email: [email protected]

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