April 27, 2011 Edition

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Chamber to add position
for economic development

Gretchen Hunt

The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce has decided to move forward with efforts to create a new part-time economic development position for the county.

Mike Montgomery, president of the Chamber board, said the timing is right for this change.

"There are a lot of opportunities available right now," he said. "We need a person whose time is dedicated to chasing down those leads."

The position will be funded by contributions from Lawrence County and the city of Walnut Ridge, as well as several towns within the county, Chamber funds and other sources.

"We have had really good support from local government and the community," Montgomery said.

The Chamber has been conducting business for several years with the only paid position being that of the executive secretary. All others working for the Chamber have been doing so as volunteers.

County Judge Dale Freeman said he and Walnut Ridge Mayor Don House met with the Chamber Board earlier in the year and economic development was among the topics.

"We've all agreed to start working together," Freeman said of himself and the mayors within the county.

House said while the cities of Walnut Ridge and Hoxie and the county are members of the Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Authority, there is also a need to have someone working specifically for Lawrence County.

"Economic development is the key to any growing community," House said. "We have had economic downturn for a long time in Walnut Ridge and Lawrence County. Several facilities have closed or downsized. We decided we couldn't wait on the economy - we were going to have to be proactive."

Freeman said the cooperative spirit in the county will bring good things for the future.

"If we'll all work together, there are going to be some great things happening in Lawrence County," he said.

Montgomery said they will begin accepting formal applications soon.

"As soon as the job description is formalized, more information will be posted on our website at www.lawcochamber.org," he said.

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