YELLVILLE, Ar — A community in the Ozarks hopes a newly renovated railroad spur will spur economic development in northern Arkansas.
In 2014, the railroad announced the spur in Yellville would have to be shut down due to it’s deteriorating condition.
What started as a plan by area leaders just to keep it open, turned into a complete overhaul thanks to various grants totaling nearly $150,000.
“We want to start immediately trying to get as much traffic in and out of there as we possibly can,” says Yellville Mayor, Shawn Lane, “because we know that will foster growth in other areas.”
Lane says the spur, which is a short track off the main line that allows for the loading and unloading of goods, had only been used by a couple area businesses in recent years.
He says the town has now hired a new company, called We Pack, to help market the renovations and the potential of cutting down shipping costs for businesses.
“By bringing rail, whether it’s out or in, you do help to grow these local businesses to some degree because they’re able to reach out to the different markets,” says We Pack Vice President of strategic development, Brian Williams.
“Whether it’s a market in Little Rock,” he says, “or it’s across the world — going through a port in Houston or Long Beach.”
Williams says potential industries We Pack will be eyeing include lumber, propane and poultry. In addition to marketing to those industries, his company will also help work out the logistics of getting supplies to and from the spur.
“It’s not just us going out there with a forklift and loading lumber,” he says, “it’s about us helping make, not only the local business connections, but everything else as well.”
A big selling point is that the spur is one of the few still publicly held in the Ozarks, meaning it’s open to everyone.
Lane hopes that fact, along with the new opportunities for business, will further add to the potential for new development in Yellville’s industrial park.
“Pick up those companies that are looking for a new home, or a company that’s a start up,” Lane says, “that’s going to have 10-20 good jobs — well paying jobs — that are going to be here for a long time.”