Little Rock business leaders converge to discuss city's future

CREDIT: KTHV
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - It's been a busy year for Little Rock after the city garnered national and international attention for their #LoveLittleRock campaign. On Dec. 14, the Little Rock Regional Chamber had their annual meeting to discuss their major goals for 2018 and the impact of the campaign.

It was a packed house at the Little Rock Visitors and Convention Center as hundreds of business leaders came together.

The focus of the day was on the future and ways to give the city a competitive edge for business as well as attracting young professionals to retain as future business leaders.

Little Rock Regional Chamber CEO, Jay Chesshir, said the business community is extremely strong in all of Central Arkansas but there are ways to make it even better which they plan to do in 2018.

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“We’re trying to expand the Little Rock port and we’re out of land and availability of sites out there,” said Chesshir. “So Brian Day and the port commission are doing a wonderful job of trying to expand that.”

“We’re talking with our friends in North Little Rock about possibility of a logistics and distribution park on that side of the river because that's a piece of the puzzle that we don't have here in terms of product that we can sell to companies that want that type of access,” he said. 
            
Chesshir also said they are also excited about a 2nd phase for expanding the Little Rock Tech Park.

Another big talker of the day was the #LoveLittleRock campaign.which he deemed an “unbelievable success” beyond his “wildest imagination.” He said the city is already receiving interest from companies from all over the country because of the campaign.

“They are now interested in an area that they hadn't thought about before because of the creative and unique way we were able to position ourselves in the international and national marketplace,” he said. 

Think Big Little Rock, a group of over 100 young professionals, is hoping that campaign will attract young talent. They spoke at Thursday’s meeting about major goals to bring in and retain more young professionals.

Chris East, Co-Chair of Think Big Little Rock, said the group is really focused on transportation and the environment, public safety and governance, public education, economic development and diversity.

“We want to make sure we have a real direction for the growth of our community because quality of life is one of the most important issues for young people when finding a place to live,” he said.

He believes the true catalyst for growth is to have more voices at the table from people of all different ages and backgrounds.

“We want to get people engaged and excited about the possibilities and give them a voice to define what their community will be,” he said.