Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Arkansas Governor Cuts Red Tape To Spur Continued Business Growth

October 4, 2017

Arkansas Governor Asa HutchinsonThe Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) is sensitive to the challenges of site selectors and executives considering expansion. AEDC makes doing business in Arkansas as easy as possible. In fact, it starts at the very top. 

When Governor Asa Hutchinson took office in January 2015, one of his priorities was to streamline the start-up and expansion processes for business. He immediately took steps to remove administrative and regulatory obstacles that industry and business often consider unnecessarily burdensome. 
“My top priority is to grow the economy of this state, to create jobs, and for Arkansas to enter a time of sustained economic power and influence,” said Gov. Hutchinson. 
During his inaugural address, the governor listed four goals for achieving economic stability, all of which strive to making business easier to conduct in Arkansas: lowering income tax rates for lower and middle class Arkansans so they can keep more of their hard-earned money; improving workforce training, making it easier for companies to find trained workers; establishing and funding computer science courses to prepare the next generation workforce; and removing burdensome regulations on business start-up and expansion. 
By streamlining legislation and state government, strides have been achieved in the following:
Goal: Lower tax rates
Achievement: 2015 – Gov. Hutchinson signed into law the largest income tax rate reduction in state history. 2016 – Gov. Hutchinson signed $50 million income tax cut for Arkansans making less than $21,000 annually.
Goal: Improve workforce training in Arkansas high schools and two-year colleges
Achievement: Implemented a workforce initiative that includes private-public partnerships with industries, two-year colleges, technical colleges and high schools.
Goal: Offer computer science in every high school and introducing younger students to technology careers
Achievement: In the 2016-2017 school year, 5,500 high-school students were enrolled in computer science classes in Arkansas, an increase of 398 percent over the 2014-2015 school year. The state implemented a computer science learning program for middle school students called “Learning Blade.”
Goal: Reduce the burden of unreasonable regulations on businesses
Achievement: Most recently, the 2017 General Assembly approved the reduction of the sales tax on replacement parts in the manufacturing sector.
In following the governor’s lead, AEDC has established a “single point of contact” system to help prospects. This provides current and prospective businesses with easier access to AEDC’s director and staff, as well as local economic development professionals at the community level.
“It’s frustrating to be passed around from person to person when trying to conduct business, and we certainly recognize that at AEDC,” said Mike Preston, executive director. “Our Business Development Team stays current on incentive programs, research and development, investment options and more so that they can be the single point of contact for businesses no matter the issue.”
Project managers at AEDC have the knowledge and expertise to respond quickly to inquiries and operate with an understanding of how to supply relevant data immediately. Simply put, there is no fear of encumbering the process with lengthy applications and protocols when all that is wanted is a simple answer.
Through AEDC, businesses will have access to data and relevant info regarding:
Available buildings and sites
Incentives and financing
Business climate, including cost of doing business
Ease of doing business also means having sufficient infrastructure.
“Few businesses these days operate within the confines of their local communities,” said Preston. “Instead they are conducting commerce regionally, nationally and, in some cases, globally. So, infrastructure is a vital concern.”
Infrastructure is seldom an issue for businesses in Arkansas, especially with transportation options. Because of the state’s location in the heartland of America, Arkansas provides easy access to all parts of the country and continent whether it be by roads, rivers, rails or runways.
In addition to the transportation infrastructure, Arkansas’ low real estate and construction costs make start-up and expansion opportunities attractive. Also, working in partnership with Entergy and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, large energy consumers are afforded discounted rates for electricity. 
“While we can’t take credit for where we are blessed to be located, we must take care and be good stewards of the infrastructure resources for which we are responsible,” Preston said. “All of these things are important factors in making Arkansas an easy place in which and from which to do business.”
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