Frank Scott, Jr.’s Jobs Agenda
Creating jobs has to be the next mayor’s top priority because Little Rock has not sustained the kind of job growth our residents have come to expect. We need clear vision for the kind of investments we need to make in our people, our infrastructure, and our institutions that can create the kind of local economy Little Rock deserves.
I’m running for Mayor because I’m confident in the economic future we can create. As a banker, former economic advisor to Governor Mike Beebe, highway commissioner, and board member for the Little Rock Port Authority and Pulaski Technical College, I know what it takes to be Little Rock’s “Chief Growth Officer.” That’s why I’m offering my Jobs Agenda that provides the framework for a thriving economic future for Little Rock, and that unites all corners of our city in unlocking the potential of our workforce and our economy.
Creating the Little Rock Economic Development Corporation centralizing all economic development strategy into a single entity that is accountable to Little Rock voters.
Cities like Atlanta and Denver, and peer cities like Birmingham and Augusta and even North Little Rock, all have economic development corporations that speak with a single voice when it comes to economic development. Economic development in Little Rock is too fragmented, and creating the Little Rock Economic Development Corporation (“LREDC”) would bring all of the city’s various economic development functions -- from incentives package and corporate recruitment to small business development -- under one entity that I would chair and be held accountable for leading.
Improving coordination of all local job training and workforce development resources to close the skills gap.
Whether it be existing Little Rock businesses or companies we look to recruit to come to Little Rock, the quality of our workforce is always the top priority. We’re fortunate to have stakeholders across Little Rock that work with job training and placement as well as our Little Rock Workforce Development Board, but there’s not enough coordination across the stakeholders who can help residents find work, help our small businesses find the help they need, or give prospective companies seeking to relocate to Little Rock the assurances they we have the workforce to meet their business’ objectives.
As Mayor, I would work closely with our Little Rock Workforce Development Board to better align the LRWDB’s programming with our business community’s needs, our business recruitment efforts, and with my priorities for supporting residents who have had difficult finding work.
Forming a “Red Tape Commission” comprised of small businesses to review City Code, licensing, permitting, zoning, planning, and any additional touch points between small businesses and City Hall in order to improve services and reduce red tape.
As a banker, I have helped to finance hundreds of Little Rock’s small businesses, so I know all too well that our small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy. A common concern that small businesses raise with me is that when they have to interact with City Hall, they leave feel like the city that they help support through the jobs they create and the taxes and fees they pay creates challenges for them when they should be making it easier for them to do business in Little Rock.
I’m ready to be the “Small Business Mayor” that Little Rock deserves, and under a Scott Administration, our city will, as it always should be, “open for business.” That starts with cutting the red tape that our businesses face when they interact with City Hall. I would form a “Red Tape Commission” led by the small businesses that know where the City needs to do in order to get out of the way of our entrepreneurs.
Developing a Citywide Small Business Growth Plan for Little Rock
It’s not enough to cut red tape. Little Rock must do more to affirmatively support our small businesses. That means rebranding our Small Business Development Office and bringing them under the Little Rock Economic Development Corporation to work with our small businesses to find mentor businesses, to identify new markets for their goods and their goods and services, and resources that can address issues with access with operating and growth capital. Within the first 100 days of a Scott Administration, I will issue Little Rock’s first “Citywide Small Business Growth Plan” setting forth a clear vision and strategy for growing our small businesses that will include recommendations from the Red Tape Commission.
I fully intend to leverage the Investing in Opportunity Act by creating the Little Rock Small Business Opportunity Fund to support Little Rock’s small businesses located throughout Little Rock’s Opportunity Zones.
Creating a Diverse Business Purchasing Plan for Little Rock’s Minority and Women-Owned Businesses
Diversity and inclusion will be cornerstones of a Scott Administration, and that includes the businesses with whom the city does business.
Little Rock has a diverse business community, but our city’s spending doesn’t reflect the city’s diversity. We must be intentional about diversity and inclusion in everything we do, and that includes supporting the diverse businesses right here in Little Rock with a clear diverse business purchasing plan that sets meaningful goals for diverse business participation and real enforcement of those goals.
Partnering with local minority chambers of commerce and other local organizations to provide support and technical assistance to Little Rock’s diverse small businesses.
While we revisit City Hall’s commitment to purchasing from diverse businesses, the LREDC’s small business services will also work to address the unique challenges that our diverse businesses encounter.
Our rebranded Small Business Development Office would work closely with the Arkansas Black Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to develop programming designed to grow our diverse small businesses.
Adopting METROCK’s 2020 Economic Development Strategic Plan for growing Little Rock’s Growth Sectors.
Growing Little Rock’s economy starts with building on the city’s existing assets like our airport, UAMS, the Port of Little Rock, and going “all in” on the industry sectors with the most significant potential for growth given our existing assets.
METROCK 2020 has already identified six industry sectors -- advanced manufacturing, corporation operations, distribution and logistics, energy technologies, financial services technologies/fintech, and healthcare -- and a strategic plan for growing these sectors.
As Mayor, I would fully adopt METROCK’s 2020 Economic Development Strategic Plan and ensure that seeing the plan through is one of the LREDC’s top priorities along with corporate recruitment, closing the skills gap, and supporting our small business community.
Repurposing community centers and other public facilities in East and Southwest Little Rock as “Opportunity Centers” for job training, counseling, and placement.
Inclusion and ensuring equal access to opportunity is just as important as growth. As a native and resident of Southwest Little Rock, I know we’re not doing nearly enough to meet residents who need work where they are in building their skills and connecting with local employers.
Far too often, job training and workforce development doesn’t meet residents where they are. As Mayor, I would bring job training, counseling, and placement services to East and Southwest Little Rock by repurposing community centers as “Opportunity Centers” providing help and support in our communities where our residents need the most support.
Creating a Chief Equity Officer within the Economic Development Corporation.
I will measure the success of our economy by its ability to find work for our hardest to employ residents. It’s my job to ensure that every person that wants to work in Little Rock can find a job to support themselves and their families.
The Chief Equity Officer (“CEO”) will be responsible for our “Opportunity Center” initiative as well as all City programming regarding youth employment, formerly incarcerated citizens, our citizens on public assistance that are looking for work, and our homeless citizens that can work. The CEO will also work with the Scott Administration and our LREDC leadership to ensure that corporate relocations to Little Rock include “inclusion plans” that would create employment opportunities for our hardest to employ residents.