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Planned new 975 ArcBest jobs could add 888 more area jobs

The announced addition of 975 jobs with the ArcBest corporate expansion in Fort Smith could result in a total of 1,907 jobs created in Arkansas, according to an economic modeling analysis conducted by the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Fort Smith-based ArcBest Corp. – formerly known as Arkansas Best Corp. – announced May 30 a $30 million plan that will see the construction of a new office building and data center at Chaffee Crossing and the addition of an estimated 975 corporate jobs by 2021.

The company will retain its high-profile, 195,000-square-feet corporate headquarter building on Old Greenwood Road in Fort Smith. That facility, which opened in early 1995, is expected to provide space for the consolidation of ABF Freight and ArcBest Technologies offices. Moving corporate and logistics jobs out of the existing corporate headquarters will allow room for expansion at ABF Freight and ArcBest.

“That anticipated growth, combined with space enabled by the new facility, supports the creation of 975 new jobs in Fort Smith through 2021,” noted the ArcBest statement.

There are now between 1,300 and 1,400 ArcBest corporate jobs in the Fort Smith area. 

An economic impact model prepared by Gregory Hamilton, senior research economist at UALR, indicates that the fully realized 975 jobs would result in 484 new “indirect” jobs in the region and 404 “induced” new jobs – or a total of 1,863 jobs in the region by 2021. The ArcBest jobs would also create more than 44 jobs outside the Fort Smith region.

“The 975 new jobs causes other business to increase employment by approximately 484 (indirect) in Fort Smith and 27.5 jobs in the rest of the state because of interindustry purchases,” Hamilton noted in the report prepared for The City Wire. “The gains in payrolls to the community and local expenditures derived from those payrolls causes an additional 404 jobs (induced) in Fort Smith. Another 16.6 jobs (induced effects ROS) are gained in the rest of the state. The total job creation is in the state is 1,907 jobs.”

Hamilton’s report is not an indepth analysis, but is a commonly used tool by businesses and governments to broadly assess the impact of job gains and job losses. The analysis looked at the impact of increasing employment in the management, scientific, and technical consulting services sector as a result of the announced 975 new jobs. Jobs and economic activity related to construction of new ArcBest facilities are not included in the analysis.

Also, the report uses 2014 values, and assumes that the 975 jobs created do not displace other jobs in the region or state. And for purposes of the report, Hamilton qualifies the region as being Crawford, Sebastian and Franklin counties. The other obvious assumption is that ArcBest follows through on adding the jobs.

The direct income produced by the new jobs – employee compensation and the boost to area business income – by $103.8 million a year by 2021, with a $2.3 million gain for the rest of Arkansas. The direct income also has a value added component that generates more economic activity for the region and state.

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“These (value added benefits) are income type payments including labor income plus rents, dividends, interest, and indirect business taxes (addition to gross state product). They increase by $125.5 million in Fort Smith, $3.4 million in the ROS, and total $128.9 million,” according to the report.

Finally, the trickle down has one more stop. According to Hamilton’s report, business sales in the Fort Smith area increase by $249 million when the ArcBest jobs are in place by 2021. Business sales in the rest of the state increase by $6.4 million.

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