Arkansas Economic Development Commission


Paragould Industrial Site Receives Site-Readiness Certification from McCallum Sweeney

Sue McGowan
Director of Economic Development/CEO
Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Economic Development Corporation of Paragould has received site-readiness certification from McCallum Sweeney Inc., a major international site consulting firm for an almost 80-acre industrial site.

Paragould’s new certified site is 78.77 acres, located in the Paragould South Industrial Park and owned by the Economic Development Corporation of Paragould. It is bordered by two highways, U.S. Highway 412 on the south and Arkansas Highway 358 on the north.

“Site-ready certification assures industrial prospects that a specific site is ready for development and without any risk of environmental contamination or other disqualifying factors,” explained Sue McGowan, Director of Economic Development/CEO of the Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce. “There are several site certification programs out there, but we chose McCallum Sweeney because they are one of the most highly regarded site selection firms, and their certification of our site will be accepted by any prospective industrial client.

“Site certification will also speed the time a company would need to begin construction on its project, as many preliminary steps like a topographical survey, clearances from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program for endangered species or culturally significant archaeological sites, have already been secured. The certification also includes a clean Phase I Environmental Site Assessment as well as a full geotechnical investigation. This will make our site more attractive to prospective industries than one that has not been through the certification process,” McGowan added.

The property is already zoned for manufacturing use, and all utilities are in place.

Other industries located in the immediate area include American Railcar Industries, Axis, Gerdau, Corbitt Manufacturing, and Anchor Packaging Regional Distribution Center.

“The demand for project ready industrial sites continues to grow as decision making time frames for companies continue to shrink. Companies are looking for sites that are ready to develop and relatively ‘risk free.’ Therefore, the location decision process demands available sites that are ready for development,” said Mark Sweeney, principal of McCallum Sweeney.

Communities that are seeking to recruit industrial development need to be armed with a wealth of information and data on both their sites and their community. Companies are not willing to wait for a community to find an appropriate site and determine its suitability for development – that due diligence needs to be completed in advance of a prospect visit. 

“Paragould is sending a strong signal to prospective companies that they are ready to compete,” said Mike Preston, AEDC Executive Director. “By being site-certified, they have proven the site is ready to begin construction and infrastructure is in place to get products to market quickly. But it also means lower costs for prospective businesses due to the fact that construction can be completed in a more timely fashion.”

The MSC site readiness process is divided into two distinct phases – a site evaluation phase and a site certification phase. The purpose of the site evaluation phase is to provide the client with MSC’s analysis of the property’s strengths and weaknesses and determine if the property is a candidate for certification. During this phase, MSC will do an inspection of the proposed property, including reviewing any due diligence performed and conducting a site visit. A site evaluation is conducted prior to embarking on the full site certification to allow for discontinuation if a fatal flaw is identified during the evaluation, and it prevents the spending of funds for due diligence on a property that will not meet the minimum certification criteria. 

The certification phase delves into the property in much more detail than the evaluation phase by requiring engineered plans, environmental studies, etc. Once the applicant has completed all the certification requirements, MSC certifies that the property is ready for development, enhancing the marketability of the site, and improving the community’s inventory of industrial properties.