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Mr. Everything: Chesshir adds president of Garland County Industrial Development Corp.

WHEN OTHER LITTLE BOYS had dreams of growing up and becoming policemen or firemen, young Jay Chesshir had different aspirations.

He wanted to become governor.

"I had been interested in the political process since I was very young and had always planned on getting in the public service arena," Chesshir says.

In the almost seven years Chesshir has lived in Hot Springs, he's become a staple at city functions.

He's affable. He's smooth. And he's determined.

The 30-year-old Chesshir recently was named president of the Garland County Industrial Development Corp. It's a full-time position, so he left his job at Arkansas Bank & Trust, a division of First Commercial Corp.

He is also still a member of the city board of directors and is chairman of the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Chesshir seems to be everywhere.

This drive to be involved with most everything didn't hurt his chances at being named president of the industrial foundation.

"We've got a guy here who knows what's happening in two or three arenas," says Mike Bush, foundation board chairman.

"One of the real advantages we have with Jay Chesshir is he's a relatively young fellow |and~ aggressive," Bush says.

That compensates for what Chesshir doesn't have. He's lacking the experience of David Wansley, outgoing president.

Wansley, who had more than 15 years of chamber and industrial development experience before he took the position in 1989, is moving to a chamber position in Florence, S.C.

When Wansley came, the industrial group had just raised $1.3 million for a development package. Therefore, the foundation had enough money to attract someone of his experience.

But when the money ran out in 1992, a second drive only produced $850,000, shy of a goal of just more than $1 million. The money wasn't available to attract another David Wansley.

Bush says that's OK, though. He's happy with Jay Chesshir.

It's Chesshir's aggressiveness and connections that make him attractive.

"We had some questions early on whether it's smart to have a guy who sits on the city board," Bush says. After the board discussed it, Bush says, "We kind of think it is smart."

Chesshir says if elected positions come open in the city or state during the time of his two-year contract with the foundation, he'll consider running if the foundation board believes it could be beneficial.

The board likes Chesshir's ambition.

"It's going to be an asset to us," Bush says.

But for now, Chesshir isn't thinking about new positions for which he can try. Instead, he's concentrating on his new job.

"Now is a very exciting time to be in the industrial development business," Chesshir says. He says Arkansas in particular is lucky to have a spotlight shone on the state due to the Clinton presidency.

"We are going to have to market our product from a targeted standpoint in a better fashion than we have in the past," Chesshir says. "We have to start at home first."

Chesshir wants to show Garland County residents what the foundation is doing and get their support.

Bush says the plan is to attract more industries like Delta Plastics Inc. and K-Tech Inc., the most recent additions to the area.

Delta Plastics is opening with 30-40 new jobs, with the potential for 100 positions. K-Tech has 13 spots and soon will add five more.

Bush wants to help small business succeed and expand.

And he and the board have directed Chesshir to lead the development.

Bush says he is confident Chesshir will succeed because of one reason:

"Jay wants this job."
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Jay Chessir
Author:Rengers, Carrie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:May 10, 1993
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