Company moving back to Arkansas

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Loss of 70 local jobs

Business Today

KENNETT --The city of Kennett will be losing an industry employing 70 local people. Wise Company will be returning its operations to Rector, Ark.

The firm had relocated to the former UARCO building in Kennett after a fire destroyed its plant in Rector last September. And, the firm apparently was willing to stay in Kennett had the city been able to provide a suitable building.

The City Council will submit a one-quarter-cent sales tax and a bond issue to voters on April 8. The money would be used for a $2.8 million industrial development project.

Jan McElwrath, Chamber executive director, told a special meeting of the Kennett City Council that the only lease-purchase terms acceptable to Wise were terms that were below market value. And the only way Kennett could offer such terms was for the city to own the building. The city didn't own a building, and did not have the money to purchase the UARCO building outright.

McElwrath said Wise Company could not wait until April to see if a sales tax would pass. She said Kennett has an opportunity to buy land to expand its industrial park. The city can acquire a 119 1/2-acre tract adjacent to the existing industrial park for $475,000. Development costs, including site preparation, utilities, sewer, drainage, streets, etc. would add $1,460,000.

To court prospective employers, a 50,000-square-foot spec building would be built at an estimated cost of $815,000. Marketing of the industrial site would add $50,000 for a total project cost of $2.8 million.

"A sales tax of one-fourth of 1 percent would generate enough revenue to pay for these projects," said McElwrath. "We recommend the issuance of bonds in conjunction with the increase in sales tax."

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