By Louie Graves
Nashville will bounce back after the gut blow of the loss of Husqvarna jobs.
That was the sentiment at a meeting here last Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 1.
Around the U-shaped city council meeting table at city hall were U.S. and state elected officials, agencies and local citizens who promised to work both in assisting Husqvarna employees and in finding replacement jobs.
The loss of the Husqvarna industries here also affects several associated industries and people who drive daily from surrounding counties for their employment. An estimated 700-plus jobs will be lost. The company will continue to operate until the end of December 2024.
The best asset for finding new jobs is the quality of the workforce which will be available to any successor industry, several meeting attendees said.
Nashville Mayor Larry Dunaway said the interest and concern shown by the state and national officials was heartening.
US Congressman Bruce Westerman mentioned that a prime reason Camden landed some highly desirable defense industries was the availability of the workforce there.
Gary Dan Futrell, a member of the mayor’s new Nashville Economic Development Committee, noted that Husqvarna itself
had been a positive presence in the town’s reaction to the loss. “They’ve been a good neighbor,” he said.
Elected officials in attendance included U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman, State Sen. Jimmy Hickey, State Rep. Danny Watson, County Judge Brent Pinkerton and Nashville Mayor Larry Dunaway.
Agencies and representatives of officials included: Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Arkansas Planning & Development District, US Department of Commerce, representatives from the offices of US Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman.
Members of the newly-activated Nashville Economic Development Commission appointed by Mayor Dunaway include: businessman Gary Dan Futrell, bankers Bob Jamison and Jay O’Neal, optometrist Dr. Aaron Tollett, retired educator Deb Marshall, chamber of commerce executive director Tim Pinkerton, Husqvarna executives Steve Harvill and Riley Jamison, County Judge Brent Pinkerton, and former Mayor Billy Ray Jones. The group held its first meeting last week with members of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.