Judge Steve McGuire speaks to Manila Lions
Members of the Manila Lions Club welcomed Mississippi County Judge Steve McGuire at the Wednesday, March 15, meeting.
Judge McGuire spoke to the group about issues concerning the county. McGuire will be running for his seventh term of office this year.
He said his goal in all decisions is to enhance the quality of life for Mississippi Country citizens.
"Several years ago we had a massive problem with the loss of jobs," McGuire said. "We lost Fruit of the Loom and other factories that left here going to third world countries. A few years ago we went over the county informing the citizens about an idea to put together an economic fund through a sales tax to help offer local incentives for industry."
McGuire said Mississippi County is in a good position due to the river, railroad and interstate access.
"The one half cent sales tax has been valuable," he said. "Jobs have been created along the river. Look around at the housing here. Nice homes are being built. In the last three years 11,070 new industry jobs were created increasing revenue $35 to $40 million a year. We invested $3 million."
He spoke briefly of some possible new industries looking at the county.
"We do not give cash money," McGuire explained. "We can offer site development, purchase property, buildings to lease to stable companies. This year 85 percent of all industrial job activity in the state of Arkansas has taken place in Mississippi County.
McGuire said every dollar spent in Mississippi County benefits everyone.
"Manila is one of two towns in Mississippi County with population increases," McGuire said. "When I was young the workforce followed jobs, today the jobs follow the workforce. Because of the requirements of having a skilled job force, a collaborative effort is taking place to create a workforce education program to develop trained and skilled workers."
McGuire said last year the county worked with the steel mill to use slag to repair gravel roads. Over 41,000 tons of slag was used in the county. A lot of wooden bridges have been replaced with 20 foot wide steel and concrete structures. Road department equipment has been upgraded.
McGuire said the sales tax generated about two and a half million dollars last year. He explained the sales tax voted in by the citizens was for 10 years.
"I'm of the opinion if it is successful, we go back to the people and ask for it to be extended. If it is not successful, it should not be extended," McGuire said.
McGuire said Mississippi County is the only county in the state with three ACE communities.
"I have a high regard for Mississippi County," he said. "It is a great day to be in Mississippi County."
Lion Tracy Reinhart thanked Judge McGuire for serving as the guest speaker. He announced the upcoming car show set for Saturday at the Depot.
The Lions will also sponsor a circus that will be coming to Manila April 22.