March 1, 2017 Edition

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Intermodal looks at
options for future

Gretchen Hunt

Following the hiring and soon-after resignation of a new executive director, the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority met on Thursday to regroup and look toward the future.

Dr. Eric Turner shared a report from the executive committee saying, "We all agree on the importance of regionalism and the critical role the NEA Intermodal Authority has in economic development."

Board Chair Nick Manatt echoed Turner's words saying he had spoken with all the partners in the organization.

"They all still realize the importance of Intermodal," he said. "We're all in this together."

Turner continued to say while it is important for NEARIFA to exist and vital for the authority to maintain a visible and active role in economic development, finding an executive director is proving to be a challenge.

"The authority does not have the economic resources to attract experienced economic developers on a full-time basis at this juncture," Turner said.

The executive committee made a recommendation to consider using a consultant to be the point person for the authority.

"We have made contact with a couple of experienced individuals who have expressed an interest in such an arrangement and are requesting them to submit a consultancy proposal to the executive committee," Turner said.

Board members agreed it was an option that needs to be explored. A request was made to have those submitting proposals also disclose who else they represent.

"Upon review of these proposals, the committee will determine whether to make a recommendation to the full board," Turner said.

Manatt said losing Derrick Harris, who had taken the position of executive director, was definitely a blow.

"I personally took it as a hard hit because I was excited about Derrick," he said. "But, it is important to move forward."

In other business, the board:

voted to have board officers continue in their current roles. They are chair, Manatt; vice chair, Turner; secretary, Alex Bigger; treasurer, Milton Smith; and executive committee member, Lloyd Clark.

heard updates from Clark regarding several events and issues including progress on the construction of the new jail and the upcoming anniversary of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives. He also mentioned the need to have funds released to fully staff the archives facility, which is located in Powahtan.

appointed Clark to represent the authority on the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation.

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