Eastern Arkansas officials cooperate on new industrial megasite

This map shows the megasite outlined in red.

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Eastern Arkansas officials hope to lure new industries to Crittenden County with a new 1,800-acre industrial megasite on Interstate 40.

Crittenden County, in cooperation with state officials and the cities of West Memphis and Marion, made the announcement Thursday. The site is planned on land that is part of both West Memphis and Marion.

“We want to make our mark on the economic future of Eastern Arkansas,” said Woody Wheelis, Crittenden County judge.

There is no guarantee that the county will be able to land a large employer, but West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson said it was worth making the investment.

“If we do nothing, we are guaranteed that nothing will happen,” Johnson said.

Entergy Arkansas is expected to certify the site in 60-90 days, ensuring prospective employers that the site is ready for industrial development.

Crittenden County’s unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in March, improving from a high of 12.4 percent in 2011, but about 100 workers in West Memphis were laid off with the closing of the Simplot plant there in January.

Across the river, Tennessee has invested $106 million in the 4,100-acre Memphis Regional Megasite in rural West Tennessee since 2009. That site has failed to land a major tenant.