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Regional Coalition Formed to Promote Bilingual Community for Economic Development

SUBMITTED BY FAITH LYNCH –

Three Arkansas counties are taking advantage of an untapped resource that could provide employment for many bilingual citizens. Sevier, Howard, and Polk Counties have discovered a way to employ many of their residents who are bilingual in English and Spanish.  Tyson Foods has a four-story modern office building in Grannis, and have decided that it is entirely possible that this building could be put to use by a company other than Tyson that could offer employment for these bilingual citizens.

In October 2014, Grannis Mayor Dwight Billings hosted a meeting at Grannis City Hall with Kevin Sexton of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and others. The AEDC maintains a website that lists opportunities within Arkansas for companies throughout the United States to take advantage of.

A coalition for the project was formed of Mayor Billings; Noel Bard, a volunteer from Grannis and Executive Vice-President of First State Bank of DeQueen; Faith Lynch, a volunteer from Wickes who is developing the project; Dr. Steve Cole, President of Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas (CCCUA); Dr. Phillip Wilson, President of Rich Mountain Community College (RMCC); Nate Bell, State Representative of House District 20 and his wife Phyllis Bell; DeAnn Vaught, State Representative of House District 4; Justin Gonzalez, State Representative of House District 43; Larry Teague, State Senator of Senate District 10.

It is the goal of the coalition to develop a program with the AEDC that will attract a potential company to locate to Grannis and the Tyson office building.  “We are optimistic that the large number of bilingual citizens will be one of the biggest attractions for a company to locate to Grannis,” the coalition said in a recent press release.

Dr. Cole of CCCUA and volunteer Faith Lynch applied for, and received, a $2100 grant from the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District to conduct a survey to determine the number of citizens who are fluent in Spanish and English and who have a knowledge of correct usage of spelling, grammar, and sentence structure.  Computer literacy will be essential for any candidate.

With the funding of the $2100 grant, 2000 surveys with envelopes were printed, along with 200 13″x19″ posters that they will be displayed in Sevier, Howard and Polk Counties.

Faith Lynch and other volunteers will be visiting and distributing copies of surveys at Tyson and Pilgrim plants on all three shifts, the Husquevarna plant, schools, churches, etc., during the month of March.

A Facebook group was created named “Grannis Bilingual Employment Survey.”  Interested persons can join the group and can take the survey from there in less than five minutes.

After April 1, 2015 the data from the survey will be given to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission so they can communicate with companies all over the United States that this modern office building is available, along with a very large number of highly qualified citizens who are proficient in Spanish and English and who have highly ethical work standards.

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