Jonesboro is located in Northeast, Arkansas – a little over an hour from Memphis – in Craighead County (110,000 population). It has enjoyed decades of relative economic success, thanks to higher education (Arkansas State University); its position as a regional healthcare hub; and a strong cluster of food manufacturers such as Nestle, Frito Lay, Post, Butterball, and Riceland Foods. But local leaders had become somewhat complacent regarding intentional and visionary economic development and the current generation of leadership grew concerned over some disturbing trends and data regarding wages and poverty levels. A comprehensive strategic planning process (led by Avalanche Consulting) in 2015 yielded a practical, yet ambitious plan with three core objectives: 1) Invest in our Product, 2) Tell our Story, and 3) Organize for Action. Jonesboro Unlimited and The Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, led by Mark Young and a group of forward-thinking business leaders, recognized that executing the new plan would require re-organizing the community’s economic development approach and substantial investment from private sector stakeholders.
How NCDS Helped
NCDS’ 2016 feasibility analysis & goal assessment revealed strong support for the new plan / approach and provided the core leadership with confidence to launch a community-wide fundraising campaign. Key recommendations included repackaging the strategic plan for better defined outcomes and impacts, and early buy-in and investments from high profile leaders / companies. NCDS’ Economic Strategy Center produced a compelling economic impact analysis that projected over $1.2 billion in new business output and an ROI of $27 for every $1 of private money invested in the new program. Several local leaders stepped up to endorse and lead the campaign, with the highly respected hospital CEO agreeing to chair the effort and commit to the lead pledge. By the middle of 2017, the Momentum Jonesboro campaign had secured over 85 private sector commitments for Jonesboro Unlimited exceeding $3.7 million over five years – representing an almost 500% increase over previous levels of private sector funding. Per investor input, we also helped facilitate a new governance and oversight structure for Jonesboro Unlimited that better distinguished it from a “committee of the chamber.”
Outcomes / Success
- 3,000 high paying jobs created in target industries in program’s first three years – surpassing the five-year goal of 2,500
- $475 million in new capital investment (in three years)
- Ranked in top 5% of US small metros for job growth (#1 in AR)
- Development of Quality of Life and Connectivity Master Plan, including $1 million in new bike trails
- New investments (including dedicated staff position at JU) for community marketing
- Ranked by Area Development Magazine in top 10 among small metros in the South for:
- Economic strength
- 5-year growth
- Prime workforce
- Year to year growth
Category: Chambers and EDOs
Forward Sioux Falls is a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. Established in 1987, it is a strong public-private partnership that has played a significant role in the community’s growth and success for over three decades. Forward Sioux Falls’ history of achievement and fundraising success demonstrate the effectiveness of the multi-year strategic initiative approach to funding, executing, and sustaining economic and community development efforts. In a region of the U.S. where many communities have struggled to grow, the Sioux Falls MSA has seen its population grow by 150,000 (219%) and net non-farm employment increase by 92,800 (238%) since the program started in 1987. NCDS is proud of its 30-plus year partnership with Forward Sioux Falls. This is truly a best-practice model that other communities should emulate, particularly in their attention to engaging and “training” a succession of business leaders and the variety of “situational specific” strategies and projects that have been delivered to complement core economic development strategies. A few of these include the development of the Sioux Empire Housing Partnership to solve housing challenges; creation of a technology business incubator; air service support; a convention center; and acquisition of an 820-acre industrial park. Visit their website for more information on Forward Sioux Falls’ history, programming, and achievements.
How NCDS Helped
NCDS helped develop and “market test” the joint venture model and Forward Sioux Falls initial modest economic development program in 1987. The first Forward Sioux Falls campaign raised $1.8 million for basic marketing and business attraction efforts for what was then a community of around 100,000. We have returned every five-years to fund new initiatives which have grown increasingly ambitious and have pursued a wide variety of strategies and agendas ranging from industrial park development to innovation districts to talent attraction and many others. The 2021 “Momentum” campaign raised $15.5 million (75% private, 25% public). Cumulatively, seven campaigns have secured over $52 million, with the campaign to fund the 2021-2026 plan to begin in late 2020.
Outcomes / Success
Population increase 1987-2020: 219% or 150,000 people
Net non-farm employment increase 1987-2020: 238% (92,800 jobs)
Lincoln County: Fastest percentage growth in U.S. in housing units 2000-2003
Numerous “best place” rankings:
#1 Economy in the U.S. 1992, 1993, 1994 (Money Magazine)
Best place to live 1992
Top 10 small metro for growing a business (Nation’s Business Magazine)
#7 Place for working women (Ladies Home Journal)
#3 Best place to start a company (Kiplinger)
Top ten metro for economic vitality
Funding for ambitious projects, including:
New Convention Center
820-acre industrial park
Washington Pavilion (Performing Arts Theater)
Sioux Empire Housing Partnership
South Dakota Technology Business Center – 38,000 square foot incubator with office, lab, light manufacturing
USD Discovery District – 80-acre innovation park integrating research, education, and business
Sioux Falls Greenway & Riverfront master plan, Good Earth State Park
Sioux Falls Tomorrow (long-range community planning process)
(Retired) President & CEO, Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
“NCDS has been our fundraising firm of choice since they first helped us devise the Forward Sioux Falls operating model in 1987, and raised $1.8 million to implement it. Not only is the firm exceptionally skilled at raising money, they also understand the importance of generating buy-in and sustained commitment. NCDS has helped us exceed goal in seven campaigns, the latest of which has a $15.5 million target, and when the current campaign is completed, NCDS will have helped us raise $53 million to fund our initiatives. Our top community leaders expect the best from our organization, and the exceptional team at NCDS always works hard to help us exceed those expectations.
Category: Chambers and EDOs
The Competitive Edge program is a public private partnership of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Wake County, and the City of Raleigh. NCDS has managed five successful campaigns since the program’s inception in 1995. During that time, it has helped create over 170,000 jobs, helped recruit the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, and successfully advocated for the passage of four school bonds totaling $3 billion. Recently, it has established a best practice talent attraction initiative called Work in the Triangle.
Category: Culture and Education
Built in 1914 for B.F. Keith’s Vaudeville circuit, the Lyric is one of few theatres still existing today that was specifically designed to maximize the acoustics and close seating needed for vaudeville shows. Major stars such as the Marx Brothers, Mae West, Sophie Tucker, Will Rogers and Milton Berle played the Lyric. Berle said it was “as fine a theatre as any in New York.” In the summertime, air was fanned over two tons of ice a day to keep guests cool. Though seating was segregated, the Lyric was one of the first venues in the South where blacks and whites could watch the same show at the same time for the same price.The Lyric was once the finest performing arts theatre in Birmingham and through its restoration made possible by the Light up the Lyric fundraising camapign, it promises to be again.
Category: Regional Economic Development
In 2009, NCDS helped fund and launch the Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative, a regional expansion of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce’s economic development efforts. Following the devastating tornado of May, 2011 Market Street Services created a new regional strategy, which led to the Accelerating Our Future campaign in 2014. Public and private support from a region now covering seven counties across three states produced $4.5 million in funding for the new Joplin Regional Partnership, focused on improving the region’s competitive position through business retention & expansion; business attraction; and workforce development & talent recruitment.