Local industry, economy important to Rutledge
By Jeri Pearson
One of Polk County’s largest employers, Nidec, garnered the attention of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge last week. As the AG begins her campaign for Governor of Arkansas, she is reaching out to industries that have a state-wide impact.
“Taking the time to visit with a variety of industries and hear from people across the state is important to me, not only as I campaign, but as Attorney General,” Rutledge said. “The more I know about what industries face, what affects them, the better I can serve the people of Arkansas in my role.”
Nidec was recommended to Rutledge as a vital part of Polk County’s economy for the role it plays in the local workforce, which employees approximately 325 individuals from Polk and surrounding counties, as well as the companies contribution to the states domestic products.
Jim Stroope, Nidec Plant Manager, told Rutledge during her visit the pandemic has impacted employment, production and costs, however signs show that the plant is returning to business as usual, with a few changes.
Stroope commented that several industries that coincide with production at the plant have also suffered from reduced workforce, increased transportation costs and other factors that are slowly being overcome as business transitions to being in demand after the pandemic.
“Demand has come back, and companies are not prepared to hire, train, get product orders in a timely manner, and that affects us,” Stroope said. “A lot of the changes are a result of supply chain difficulties.”
Despite those difficulties, Stroope said the plant is preparing to ramp up hiring back to pre-pandemic levels, which typically hover around 400.
“It’s good to see the world come back to life,” Stroope said.
As the plant looks to ramp up hiring, Stroope acknowledged there is stiff competition among employers, noting that other major employers in the area offer sign on bonuses and advertise heavily to recruit employees.
“We do have a lot to offer at Nidec,” Stroope explained. “Many of our folks have taken advantage of tuition reimbursement and get their degree as they work their way up here. This is a company that offers advancement opportunities to those who are interested. Most of our people have been here 12-15 years.”
Rutledge visited with Stroope and leaders at Nidec, asking questions regarding how they came to work at Nidec and their background.
“People’s stories are important,” Rutledge said. “I enjoy learning about people and what obstacles they face. It helps me do my job.”
About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018.
Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative.
She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves as co-chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General Veterans Affairs Committee, re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture and was the former Chairwoman of the National Association of Attorneys General Southern Region. As the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, she remains active on the Executive Board.
A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee.