CROSSETT, Ark. (09/19/19) — After more than 500 workers were displaced from a partial Georgia Pacific shutdown, the city of Crossett may soon get some relief.
The Crossett Economic Development has been working diligently since the shutdown to recruit new industries. The have used several marketing tactics to entice companies to build in Crossett.
The development commission has also been working with the state to host events in areas like Dallas, Atlanta, Greenville. They’ve met face to face with prospective prospective businesses and site consultants, in hopes of creating a partnership.
“The first thing we have to do is sell them on Arkansas,” Director of Crossett Economic Development, Mike Smith said. “Then, once they are convinced that Arkansas is the place to do business, then we sell them on which communities would be best suited for their company.”
The work didn’t just begin when Georgia Pacific announced the layoffs but before.
“We were working just as hard before that because we know that we want to grow our communities,” Smith said.
Many industries including pellet mills and dimensional lumber mills expressed interest before the layoff announcement but didn’t pursue because of the stiff competition.
“They didn’t feel like they could compete with Georgia Pacific for labor and resources,” Smith said.
Now, they’ve made their way back. One company though is expressing more than just an interest. Smith says they’re committed to building in Crossett.
“We’re definitely on a short list with a big bio-energy company. They like the natural resources that are here,” Smith said. “They feel like the prices will be stable because they won’t have as many large users of the trees, the pine trees and that’s one of their key feed stocks. We have the adequate transportation with the railroad.”
The company would build two refineries side by side and could potentially bring in about 85 workers at each plant and an additional 200 to 250 people to supply resources, maintenance and other job duties.
Smith says this will provide a significant job creation event, but it’s not final.
“They want to be here but I don’t want to give anybody any false hope,” he said. “There’s still a lot of hurdles that they have to get over before they’ll be ready to pull the trigger.”
The biggest hurdle is making sure they can secure the finances. If they can secure that, they hope to break ground next year.
The interest by different companies has the community a sense of hope and peace. They’ve been meeting 16 weeks straight, praying for the families who were affected by the shutdown and for a miracle to happen in the city.
So far, they are pleased with the attention Crossett is getting.
“Ours prayers are being heard and answered,” Sherri Rice said. “This is a great place and it’s a place that loves the Lord.”
With this kind of covering, many residents say they are confident in the future.
“The best is yet to come,” Rice said.
Smith also believes Crossett has a bright future. Crossett Economic Development is working on a few grants that will help make improvements to the city, specifically handling the sewer problems.
“Our community is strong, resilient and we will be back,” Smith said.
The community prays every Tuesday at the Centennial Park at 6 p.m.