Developed around a complex rail system more than a century ago, Texarkana was born from the merging of neighbouring states Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana when railroad builders realised the vast potential of the region. Today, that potential still exists, and Texarkana has grown to become a key site for original equipment manufacturers that need to reach consumers or customers on time and on schedule.
AR-TX REDI is Texarkana’s regional economic development organisation, and acts as a single point of contact for relocating or expanding companies in the area. It represents and exclusively negotiates on behalf of multiple large tracts of land with direct access to US interstates and highways.
At the helm of it all is AR-TX REDI’s president and CEO Rob Sitterley, a man with a unique background in economic development and a commitment to ensuring this thriving region realises its full potential. Investment Monitor caught up with Rob to find out more.
How did you come to work in economic development?
After graduating college, my first job was with a local economic development organisation. That is when I first developed my passion for economic development and discovered how much I loved helping people and creating jobs in a way that also fuelled my entrepreneurial spirit. After my experience in local economic development, I worked in the private sector in the financial services industry and then as a professional athlete. Both experiences were extremely valuable as I honed crucial skills of business acumen, focus and the relentless pursuit of perfection.
My path then led back to economic development. This time I was leading business development for the state of Florida under two different governors. Each governor provided a poles apart approach to economic development helping me further examine my craft from two vastly different perspectives. I then continued on the path as an economic development professional in the private sector as a principal and national practice leader for a site selection business. Today, I am having the most rewarding and successful experience of my career. I am doing what I love and wake up every day excited to create and generate new content, leads and opportunities for the amazing Texarkana region.
What does your unique background mean for the companies that choose to work with you?
My unique background means companies that work with me will have someone who has seen and experienced it all. Over my career, I was personally involved with more than 450 economic development projects representing 80,000 plus new jobs and nearly $10bn in capital investment. I have worked projects of all sizes in every targeted industry, and I have the unique advantage of working on these projects from both the public sector and the private sector sides. My experiences have given me the perspective and experience to effectively bridge the gap between business and government.
Instinct, responsiveness, attention to detail, and execution is what it means to work with me. REDI embodies my commitment to relentlessly match the pace and speed a business moves at to meet its consumers’ demands.
What drew you to the region and what do you like most about living here?
What drew me to the Texarkana region is the people. When I first visited Texarkana, I met my board of directors who are an amazing group of business and community leaders. Each one, in their own right, is a powerhouse. Collectively, they are a coalition of the most successful business leaders and economic development champions in the South. I consider myself lucky to work for such a dynamic group of entrepreneurs who are passionate about moving Texarkana forward.
However, what was far more impressive to me were their qualities of character, which permeated through the entire community. That is what my wife and I love about living here. It is a community you must see for yourself to truly understand what a wonderful place this is.
What are the most challenging parts of the work you do? What do you enjoy the most?
The most challenging parts of the work are creating awareness for the region. We are largely an unknown commodity – but I promise you we will not be undiscovered for long! We have the trifecta of infrastructure, developable land and workforce that is second to none for regions of this size and even larger. Being able to create global awareness of the value this region can bring to an expanding or relocating company is the greatest challenge.
The most enjoyable part of my work is seeing jobs created and how it elevates a community. The feeling of knowing the work I did led to someone having a job today who did not have one yesterday is priceless.
Why should manufacturers choose Texarkana?
Texarkana has a long history in manufacturing. Companies like Ledwell, Cooper Tire and Red River Army Depot are industry leaders, and they are among dozens of manufacturers in the region that prove our region’s manufacturing prowess.
Why should manufacturers choose Texarkana? We are strategically located within easy reach of suppliers and consumers, we have a dedicated and skilled workforce, world-class transportation infrastructure, cutting-edge education and training programmes, and a business-friendly climate with strong governmental support of two states.
What industries are best suited to setting up in this region?
Sitting across both Texas and Arkansas we bring the best of both states to one location for your growing business – with low tax rates, a skilled workforce and infrastructure that positions you in the heart of major markets. Manufacturing, defence, healthcare along with distribution and logistics, all benefit from the unique advantages Texarkana has built over the last century when rail first came through the region. Come find out for yourself why you and your company need to #TAPintoTEXARKANA!