The Technology Industry's Positive Impact on Craighead County, Arkansas Economy

When it comes to economic development in the technology sector, Arkansas is on the rise. With the third lowest cost of living in the US and business incentives for tech-based organizations, the state is becoming a hub for companies from around the world and hiring a skilled workforce to fill high-tech positions in cybersecurity, financial technology, retail, supply chain and more. One of the main indicators of a potential economic downturn is the decrease in sales tax revenues at the city and county levels. However, so far, there has been no drastic drop in revenue in Jonesboro or Craighead County due to the pandemic.

This is likely due to the influx of tech companies that have set up shop in this area, creating jobs for skilled workers and providing incentives for businesses to stay afloat. In the protohistoric period, the Tunica tribe, some of whose members lived in southeastern Arkansas, had earned a reputation as merchants. Lead mining began in the early 19th century in the Strawberry River in north-central Arkansas, but Newton County led production. In 18th century Quapaw hunted near Arkansas and White rivers putting them into competition with larger Osage tribe. First shipments of coal from Spadra (Johnson County) began in 1841 but irregularity of water level on Arkansas River made shipping difficult. Reflecting a major Arkansas business, three of the highest-paid state employees were once coaches at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville.

In 1909, seventy-three percent of Arkansas workers were employed in the lumber industry; by 1927, that figure had fallen to fifty-seven percent. Authorities have repeatedly warned that numbers could drop significantly in the coming months as the full impact of the COVID-19 shutdown is reflected in sales tax figures. Arkansas is proactively fostering a skilled workforce that meets the needs of technology companies located in the state. Not only did he encourage better livestock production, he served as head of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (now the Arkansas Economic Development Commission) and later became governor of the state. Craighead and Jonesboro County have experienced an unprecedented streak of sales tax collection over the past five years, breaking collection records every year and rarely having a month where revenue was lower than the same month from the previous year. In addition, Arkansas received a local boost thanks to wartime creations such as the Southwest Proving Ground outside Hope, Pine Bluff Fireworks Plant (Jefferson County), Arkansas Artillery Plant in Jacksonville (Pulaski County), Jones Mill aluminum processing plants (Hot Spring County) and Hurricane Creek in Saline County; completion of Norfork Dam on White River in Baxter County was also beneficial. The Caddos, located in southwestern Arkansas, were involved in trade mainly dealing with horses which they imported from tribes on the plains and sold to those in the east.

Not only did Osage burn Caddo villages on Red River they stole horses from Europeans in Missouri and Arkansas as well as other neighboring tribes. In 1980s business activity reached level sufficient to support weekly publication Arkansas Business which was later added to Northwest Arkansas edition. Jonesboro had Arkansas State University (now Arkansas State University) and low electricity rates from its city-owned utility. It is clear that technology industry has had a positive impact on Craighead County's economy. The increase in sales tax revenue over recent years is evidence that this sector has been beneficial for local businesses and residents alike.

Cindy Frantum
Cindy Frantum

Incurable web nerd. Professional bacon trailblazer. General entrepreneur. Typical coffee buff. Total communicator.