Editor’s Note: “The Economic Development Side” is written by Rhonda Dishner, the Economic Development Alliance’s executive assistant.

A small group of national site-selection consultants was in Arkansas on Nov. 8 and 9 in a visit pre-arranged by the Metro Little Rock Alliance (MLRA). They were in the state to tour sites and industrial parks in the central Arkansas counties that make up MLRA (including Jefferson County through sponsorship by the Economic Development Alliance).

The objective of the tour was to familiarize the site selectors with Arkansas and especially MLRA communities. First-hand knowledge of potential sites should prove useful as the consultants search out locations for client projects.

The consultants were divided up for community tours on both days according to their expressed interest. The one who came to Jefferson County on the 9th toured the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) at Jefferson and looked at available sites in Pine Bluff’s Jefferson Industrial Park, where they also stopped for a walkabout tour of Highland’s wood-pellet production facility.

But this is a description of activities at the end of that particular week. Let’s rewind to the beginning of it.

In last week’s column, we talked about the Alliance economic development director’s Nov. 3-8 stay in New Orleans to complete the three-year Economic Development Institute program.

The classes Caleb McMahon took were in the middle of an unusually long stretch of work that began on Friday, Nov. 2, with travel to New Orleans. Classes began on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. and concluded that Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Six full days like that.

After coursework wrapped up at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, and with certificate of completion in hand (or in briefcase), he headed to the airport for the flight home. But as is frequently the case, there was a delay on the connecting flight. He finally arrived in Little Rock about 12:30 a.m. on Friday, the 9th.

We tell this because McMahon had an important 7:00 a.m. breakfast appointment in Little Rock that day. And after driving home to Pine Bluff and getting maybe three hours of sleep, he was back on the road to Little Rock.

The early morning meeting, at the Capital Hotel, was part of the series of events arranged by MLRA for the two-day, consultants marketing tour. It was one of the three Friday introductory breakfasts scheduled for individual site selectors with their paired economic developers—in this instance, Caleb McMahon. Following breakfast, McMahon served as driver and guide for the Jefferson County tour.

All the consultants and community representatives were back in Little Rock later that day for lunch, with the consultants departing at 3:00 p.m.

Besides completing his EDI certification and helping a site selector learn about Jefferson County, McMahon also received a call from MLRA informing him that, based on a recent Alliance response to a request for information, Pine Bluff made the short list for a major project. That was a good week.