Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce
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Mountain Home, AR 72653
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06/25/14 - Baxter County--Mountain Home Center of Economic Growth

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Study shows B-C is retail, economic hub


Richard Hester Reporting
 
     For years Mountain Home and Baxter County has billed itself as a retail and economic hub for this area of northcentral Arkansas. Recent information gathered by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, indeed, bears that out. 

     UALR did an economic development assessment of the areas's economy for FOCUS Mountain Home and preliminary results of the study were unveiled Tuesday. FOCUS Mountain Home is a five-year economic development initiative by the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce.

     Mark Goodman, director of the Center for Economic Development Education at the Institute for Economic Advancement at UALR, on what the study revealed about business and employment in the Twin Lakes Area.

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    In observing employment and commuting patterns, Goodman said Baxter County is a bit unique in that most people who work in Baxter County also live in the county. However, he said there is a connection between Baxter and Marion counties with a significant number of Marion County citizens traveling to Baxter County for work.

    A sign the county is a retail hub, Goodman said, is the pull factor of money that flows into Baxter from other counties.

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     Goodman said the three-month study also indicated the area's economy was stagnate from 2008 through 2011 but appears to be on the road to recovery from last decade's recession.

     Mike Gerfen, coordinator for UALR's worforce group, said Baxter County has a sufficient size workforce to attract business and industry, but the demographics are a bit unique. 

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    Gerfen praised the foundation of collaboration that's been established between business and industry and the local education system. He said it's important the local education system be able to meet the needs of training an older workforce.

    Bo Gregory, economic development director for the Mountain Home Chamber, said the study will be a valuable tool in the recruitment of business and industry.

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    The complete study done by UALR won't be available for at least another month.