Jonesboro, ARK, August 3, 2021–Jonesboro Unlimited (JU) rolled out its new, Five-Year Strategic Plan today. The event, held at Arkansas State University’s Fowler Center, highlighted four strategic initiatives of the new plan: Business Growth and Retention, Talent and Workforce Development, Quality of Life and Infrastructure, and Branding and Marketing.
“There are so many aspects of our plan to get excited about,” said Mark Young, President of Jonesboro Unlimited, “By building off the success of our first strategic plan, we are continuing to position Jonesboro as a community where business and investment can thrive. And with that comes jobs.”
As part of its first Strategic Plan in 2017, JU announced the goal of creating 2,500 direct new jobs over five years in JU’s target industries: healthcare, advanced manufacturing, professional services, logistics, and agriculture. It was a goal exceeded in only three years. With five months remaining in the plan, over 4,000 direct new jobs have been created.
“We were confident we could reach the goals we set in 2017,” said Chris Barber, Chairman of Jonesboro Unlimited, “What we didn’t expect was that would exceed them so thoroughly. It’s a great indicator of Jonesboro’s economic strength and something to be proud of.”
In November 2020, Jonesboro Unlimited engaged Ernst & Young (EY) Economic Development Advisory Services to develop Jonesboro’s new five-year economic development strategy. The strategy intends to build on the success of the previous plan, identifying new opportunities for growth and offering recommendations designed to enhance Jonesboro’s competitiveness for attracting businesses and talent. A quantitative analysis and competitive assessment give a better understanding of Jonesboro’s economic strengths in recent years.
Jonesboro has enjoyed strong job growth. Employment in the region rose by more than 12% between 2014 and 2019, outpacing the US average by approximately 50%. Jonesboro’s ability to sustain significant employment growth is especially striking given its size and geographic location. Jonesboro ranked among the 100 leading metros in the US for job growth between 2014 and 2019. Only five regions smaller than Jonesboro regions made this list. Notably, these other smaller regions are often located alongside larger growth corridors.
In contrast, the Jonesboro region alone is driving growth in Northeast Arkansas. The previous economic development strategy and the subsequent actions taken by Jonesboro Unlimited can be credited with the resilience and continued growth of the city, county, and region even during the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2021. Those successful initiatives that have contributed to Jonesboro’s growth over the past several years will continue and complement the new strategic plan.
JU’s new plan will focus on the following initiatives: Business Growth and Retention, Talent and Workforce Development, Quality of Life and Infrastructure, and Branding and Marketing.
Amy Holloway of Ernst & Young helped craft JU’s new plan and presented the specifics at today’s rollout.
“This plan truly builds off the successes Jonesboro has seen over the last five years,” Holloway said, “We have taken all that momentum and focused it into a plan that will continue to enhance and develop Jonesboro as a city where companies can invest and grow while maintaining a great quality of life.”
In addition to a competitive assessment, EY and JU held a series of stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and strategic advisory committee meetings with Jonesboro community leaders, professionals, and university students. The vast majority of individuals who participated in input sessions have a favorable view of living, working, and doing business in Jonesboro. Still, they also want to see it continue to grow and improve across several areas.
The work reflects the community-focused leadership that continues to enhance the economy.
“It goes to show you the great climate we have in this community, the great businesses we already have that continue to grow and expand and the ability because of our strategic plan to recruit new companies to our community as well,” said Mark Young, “We’re excited to get started.”
Work has already begun on implementing parts of the new plan. It will officially get underway on January 1, 2022.