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Boyette realizes dream with AIDC nomination.

Arkansas Native Says He'll Continue to Target Companies Geographically

THE NOMINATION OF DEL Boyette as the new executive director of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission may have been the worst kept secret in the state last week.

Two days after longtime Executive Director Dave Harrington surprisingly announced his resignation on Aug. 30, the Arkansas Times speculated Boyette would be chosen. A day later, the state daily newspaper reported the same thing.

But the choice of Boyette likely is the best that Gov. Jim Guy Tucker could make. Although he's only 36, Boyette seems to have the experience, success and enthusiasm to handle the job.

His official approval must come from the AIDC commissioners, but that is almost automatic. Tucker says he discussed Boyette's nomination with the commissioners before last week's announcement.

Instead of targeting specific manufacturers for Arkansas, Boyette says, the AIDC under his leadership will continue to target companies geographically.

"In the last few years, we've targeted companies in a growth mode that are looking to expand to other existing locations," says Boyette, who calls his selection as AIDC director the culmination of a dream.

The AIDC, created in 1955 by legislative mandate, is the cabinet-level state agency responsible for economic development in Arkansas.

Except for one seven-month absence, Boyette has been with the AIDC since September 1985. But that stint in 1990 with the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, where he was director of business development and marketing, may best define Boyette.

At the chamber, he helped to attract what was, at the time, the largest plant location in the Little Rock area in years. He actually began the recruitment of Babcock and Wilcox ST Co. while he was at AIDC.

In 1990, only six months after the first contact with Boyette, Babcock and Wilcox selected Little Rock. The New York-based firm has about 300 employees at its building at the Little Rock Port.

Babcock and Wilcox, a manufacturer of steam generators, chose Little Rock over 60 other sites. Boyette recalls that the project was building-driven.

"Everything just seemed to be right," Boyette said after Little Rock was chosen. "I don't think Arkansas was even in the picture initially.

"Once they visited Little Rock, I think as much as the building being a fit, Little Rock was a fit."

In his position as the AIDC's director of industrial development, Boyette directs the agency's project managers, who are responsible for taking industrial leads and persuading firms to choose Arkansas for manufacturing plants.

Spine-Chilling Work

Boyette was effusive when he was named director of industrial development in 1991.

"It almost sounds hokey, but I love working with the communities and I love working with the companies," Boyette said. "I get chills up my spine when plants make announcements in the state." He repeated the "chills up my spine" line again last week.

Boyette is a native of Nashville. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas at Conway and the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.

Harrington, 55, joined the AIDC as deputy director in March 1982 and has been executive director since January 1983. One longtime executive at AIDC says Harrington's resignation, effective Sept. 30, was completely unexpected.

Harrington says he plans to leave Arkansas to work with a private company.

A native of Greenbrier, Harrington returned to Arkansas after serving two years as vice president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. He spent 22 years in the military, including two years in Vietnam as a captain in the Green Berets. He retired as a lieutenant colonel.

When Harrington took over as executive director, the AIDC had a staff of 107 and an operating budget of almost $3 million. It now has 117 employees and a budget of about $7 million, including federal and state funds.

Next year, that budget will grow to $15 million thanks to bills passed in the last legislative session.

Harrington is a graduate of Flippin High School and Ouachita Baptist University at Arkadelphia.
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Title Annotation:Del Boyette's nomination to the A.I.D.C.
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Sep 6, 1993
Words:662
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