Monday, February 20, 2012

Livin’ large in the Mid-South

cost of livingThe average cost of living figure being 100, Jonesboro’s cost of living is substantially lower

I’ve been doing some writing for a special project Maria’s newspaper does every year about this time and have come across some pretty interesting facts and statistics.

We live in Craighead County, Arkansas, of which Jonesboro is the county seat. The economy went to hell about the time we got here in the autumn of 2007. But while conditions were getting really bleak in other places – Maria’s son got laid off from his job in Indiana in the spring of 2009 – it wasn’t nearly as bad here. Austin came down to live with us and found employment, thanks to our BMW motorcycle friend Charlie to manages a pharmacy in Paragould. But the fact is that he found employment here.

Throughout the economic downturn, northeast Arkansas in general and the Jonesboro area in particular, have proven to be an odd little pocket of prosperity.

Home construction is on the rise and the construction of a major new NEA Baptist Medical Center on U.S. 49 north of Jonesboro has spurred a boom in commercial development along that corridor.

The past two years have seen the opening of an Olive Garden, a Longhorn Steakhouse, a Red Lobster, a Cheddars, a Panera Bread and there are more restaurants under construction. Sissy’s Log Cabin, a premiere jewelry store, will open soon next door to Panera.

Nordex, a German—owned wind turbine company, opened its North American manufacturing facilities here a couple of years ago and existing industries are thriving.

Consequently, the unemployment rate here is well below the national average, as this graph released recently by the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce indicates:


My point is that this place turned out to be a remarkable economic success story.

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