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A recipe for growth: Bradley County hopes to spark industrial growth with $1.25 million project.

For the past two years, Mollie's at Warren has served breakfast to members of the Bradley County Industrial Development Corp. each Monday at 7 a.m.

Over pancakes and coffee at the restaurant, BCIDC members discuss the county's future.

Big plans are cooking at the diner.

The BCIDC, headed by state Rep. John Lipton, has developed a plan to attract industry to Bradley County.

"We wanted to accomplish three main goals," Lipton says. "First, we wanted to construct a building, designed to general industry specifications, that would attract an industry to the area. We needed a suitable piece of land for that building in the Bradley County Industrial Park. Finally, we needed to generate adequate financing for the project."

The group's recipe for industrial growth isn't original.

But it is one that has proved successful.

Several Arkansas cities have built "spec" buildings to entice industrial prospects. Lipton says the BCIDC studied Arkadelphia, Monticello, Morrilton and Paragould to learn what would yield the best results.

"The most important element for success is total community support," Lipton says. "You can tell which communities are aggressive from an industrial development perspective. They are willing to invest in themselves."

Lipton says Warren residents support the project.

"Our county is losing population," he says. "Attracting industry and generating jobs is the obvious way to increase our piece of the pie."

Financing The Project

The cost of building and marketing the 50,000-SF facility is estimated at $1.25 million.

Lipton says money was the BCIDC's major obstacle until Warren Bank & Trust Co. and First State Bank of Warren teamed up.

"Adequate financing is typically the missing link in rural industrial development," Lipton says. "I was convinced the lending institutions needed to get behind this endeavor. But, frankly, I couldn't be sure they would."

The banks have pledged $800,000 to cover the building's construction costs. Roads, sewage lines and utilities will be provided by local and county governments, according to Warren Mayor Gregg Reep.

Remaining funds will be solicited by the BCIDC from private sources. About $80,000 is needed for a national marketing plan.

Reep says the BCIDC hopes to attract an environmentally safe industry that is not in the wood products sector.

"We are heavily dependent on the wood products industry," he says. "It would be good to diversify."

The Potlatch Corp. (wood products), Robbins Inc. (hardwood flooring) and La Donna Inc. (women's clothing) employ more than 1,300 people in Bradley County. But Lipton, Reep and others say there are many residents who need jobs.

Lipton says it could take as long as three years to find a buyer for the "spec" building.

"You have no assurance a tenant will move in immediately," he says.

Work on the project is to begin in August.
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Title Annotation:Bradley County Industrial Development Corp. to construct a building
Author:Harper, Kim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 13, 1992
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