From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great land, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
The announcement that Carvana would invest $40 million to open a distribution and inspection center in Crittenden County is good news for many reasons. Of course, it means the creation of about 400 jobs in the next few years. But just as importantly, it validates decisions we made years ago and proves that our long-term economic development strategy is paying off.
A couple of decades ago, business and civic leaders in east Arkansas realized they had to change their strategy in order to recruit industry and create jobs. That new strategy emphasizes specialized education of a workforce that has the job skills to compete in today’s economy.
The state re-structured its job training bureaucracy. We gave more authority and input to local business executives, who know which jobs skills are in greatest demand.
High schools, community colleges and adult education centers learned to adjust their curricula in order to meet the demands of local industries. In other words, the vo-tech classes of today are not your father’s shop class. Of course, computers and information technology are essential ingredients in most of the state’s new vo-tech offerings.
So it’s no surprise that a company like Carvana chose Crittenden County. It will build in the Mid America Industrial Park, where similar industries are taking advantage of our location as a centralized transportation hub.
Carvana bills itself as the new way to buy a car, with new technology. Customers use the Internet to shop online and arrange their financing online.
The new facility in West Memphis will also be an inspection center. Vehicles will be checked out mechanically, before being transported to customers throughout the region.
That means there will be plenty of new jobs for people who just like getting under the hood, and listening to the sound of an engine.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.