The West Plains Economic Development Corporation heard from Economic Development Director Dave Bossemeyer regarding new and ongoing developments Tuesday evening, during the organization's September meeting.
In his first update, Bossemeyer shared that the former Regal-Beloit factory on Lanton Road has a new occupant.
Favorite Fishing USA is gearing up to open a location in West Plains at the former factory. The company, which specializes in fishing rods, reels and lures, currently has a 120,000 square-foot warehouse in Thayer, 603 N. Ninth St.
According to Suzanne Cooley, director of Human Resources at the new West Plains facility, the company expects to hire staff to fill 45 to 50 full-time manufacturing positions and is accepting applications in person at either the West Plains or Thayer locations.
The official hiring process will not begin until later this year, she added.
Bossemeyer told the EDC that Favorite Fishing voiced a desire to bring back the flashing yellow caution lights that indicate highway traffic on the U.S. 63 bypass gets the right of way.
West Plains City Administrator Tom Stehn shared in reply that the police have reported fewer accidents since the lights were eliminated, and added the city will continue discussions with the company about the issue.
Bossemeyer gave an update on work with Lighthouse 360 and said he is developing a committee to assist in identifying a narrower target market for the second phase of the EDC marketing campaign.
EDC has been working with Lighthouse 360 on marketing and leads to build interest and business inquiries. Since August 2019, Lighthouse has contacted companies on behalf of West Plains, seeking out those entities looking to expand or relocate their businesses.
Bossemeyer said he is also working with Myles Smith, manager of member services with Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, to develop a countywide industrial ad campaign, showcasing businesses that are hiring and the type of qualifications needed to fill those positions.
An update on the Tractor Supply soon to build West Plains, on west U.S. 160 near the former site of Skateland, was also given by Bossemeyer: Site preparation is underway and that construction is expected to start soon. The target date for the store’s opening is February 2021.
In other updates, Bossemeyer said the owner of the Ridge Crest motel is considering converting the facility into a multifamily apartment complex. The EDC data is being revised for the West Plains Chamber of Commerce directory and updates are being made to the EDC prospectus, a document that provides information for businesses interested in moving to the area.
Following the director's report, the EDC board discussed holding its annual fundraiser in November and determined that fundraising efforts will be extended to businesses in Howell County.
Smith discussed revisions to update the board’s three-year plan, which he has been working on. He added that he will email a draft to board Secretary Sonja Stauffer, who will distribute it to advisory and community boards for input.
Membership on the committees is open and anyone interested in joining may contact Stehn at West Plains City Hall, 256-7176, or Smith at Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, 256-2131.
The West Plains Economic Development Corporation was formed as a public/private partnership to boost economic development prospects in the area. The board consists of representatives from the business sector, the community and the city of West Plains, all of whom will work closely with Bossemeyer on economic development projects.
For more information visit www.westplainseconomicdevelopment.net.