Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fayetteville contracts with experienced economic-development leader

The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
Chung Tan To Head Fayetteville Economic Development
By Skip Descant
FAYETTEVILLE — Fayetteville's face for economic development knows a few things about international business, and happens to speak seven languages.
Chung Tan, a University of Arkansas alumna, has worked in economic development the past 13 years nationally and internationally, part of which was in the Pacific Rim.
She was recently hired by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce to lead the Fayetteville economic development project.
"We felt that we needed people who had both international experience, people who had national experience and people who brought diversity to the process," said Steve Clark, president of the Chamber.
Fayetteville recently signed a $250,000 contract with the Chamber after a bidding and review process.
A central component of that contract is the Chamber of Commerce will be required to submit quarterly accountability reports with specific "action items" to the city.
Tan performed a similar job in Monterey Park, Calif.
"We want to put Fayetteville on the map not only locally, but regionally and internationally," said Tan of her strategy to grow the local economy.
"In my plan for the future we will move to help Fayetteville companies move to become export ready," Tan remarked during a Wednesday press conference.
The job, she says, involves working collaboratively with groups like the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to put Fayetteville on a global stage.
"It could be part of the whole international economic development process," Tan said.
Tan will be joined by Candy Harrell, who has 15 years in human resources and has served as a chief lobbyist for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. Harrell is also fluent in Spanish.
"We speak every language that we need to attract jobs," Clark said.
The contract the city signed with the Chamber also turned out to be the best deal.
"This price was significantly less — 300 percent — than the other two finalists," said Don Marr, Fayetteville chief of staff, commenting on one of the selection criteria the city used when it selected the Chamber. The idea of contracting the city's economic development liaison grew out of the Fayetteville Forward Economic Development Summit.
In its request to potential candidates, Fayetteville stressed an ability to market the city in four key areas. Namely, the clean-tech, health care, tourism and nonprofit sectors.
The request also stressed the importance of having one person involved with all facets of economic development.
"The city currently lacks a single point of contact for economic development and a Web site that contains easy-to-find content for existing and prospective businesses," reads the "request for proposal" document issued by the city.
Tan wants to be that contact by constantly updating the city's profile so that a proposal always gets fast answers.
"We want to package ourselves readily with quick turnaround time," Tan said.

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