In 2015, Avalanche Consulting worked with the Jonesboro Regional Chamber to create an Economic Development Strategy. To begin the project, Avalanche conducted a thorough evaluation of Jonesboro’s competitive position. During three trips to Jonesboro, we conducted focus groups and interviews with dozens of regional stakeholders, including employers, public leaders, non-profits, and citizens to gain further insight into local competitive assets and challenges. In addition, more than 1,850 citizens shared their ideas with the team through an online survey, which was offered in both English and Spanish.
When developing the Strategy, Avalanche outlined a vision, goals, and tactical action plan for the next five years and beyond. We offered recommendations around topics critical to Jonesboro’s economic development such as education and workforce, infrastructure, quality of life, and branding and marketing. Avalanche shared best practice examples highlighting programs in aspirational communities that could be adapted and adopted by Jonesboro. We also provided target industry profiles and details on how to implement the strategy and measure progress.
In the months that followed, the Jonesboro Regional Chamber has successfully organized stakeholders into task forces that are taking action across a variety of priority issues, laying the groundwork for continued success.
- The Jonesboro Unlimited economic development brand has has been adopted.
- In February 2016, Arkansas State University received a $1 million EDA grant to complete the development of its Innovation Center.
- In March 2016, FMH Conveyors announced a retention/expansion project resulting in 110 new jobs.
- In March 2016, I-555 was designated as an official interstate.
- The Talent Task Force is planning its second “Growing Talent Together” forum.
- A Pre-K Talent Task Force subgroup has been established and recently held a press conference supporting additional Pre-K activities in the Jonesboro School District.
- The Infrastructure Committee is evaluating possible industrial properties for future growth.
- The Quality of Life Committee has identified several priority projects to pursue, including more bike paths connecting the largest parks with downtown Jonesboro, and a corridor project linking Arkansas State University to downtown.
- A new capital campaign is planned to increase funding and other resources for implementing the Strategy.
Our experience with Avalanche Consulting was great! The development of our strategic plan involved over 2,000 Jonesboro residents. This inclusive process resulted in great support from our community as we have transitioned to the implementation of our strategy.
-Mark Young, President & CEO, Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce