With the nation in the midst of a pandemic, Stuttgart is still letting its light shine as the community continues to pull together. Economic distress continues to incline as COVID-19 numbers continue to increase in Arkansas County, unemployment rates continue to decrease.
According to David Leech, Stuttgart’s Economic Development Coordinator, the unemployment rate in Stuttgart was just over 5% in July and the best in Arkansas versus 10.5% nationwide. Sales tax collections in Stuttgart were up 12% with internet sales tax making up the bulk of the revenue.
Business picked back up at Baptist Health Medical Clinic-Stuttgart according to Leech.
“Baptist Stuttgart had a great month in July, a month that in the past has always been a terrible month,” said Leech. “The hospital made money, volumes were back up and the hospital is close to making a profit for the year.”
Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart also has a new machine and has updated its lab to test for COVID-19. According to Leech, results will be returned quickly but didn’t specify the turnaround time.
The Hospital Foundation will sign a new three year lease with the Dialysis Clinic and will remodel the Carti Clinic.
Other great news is the Stuttgart Daily Leader will launch its online newspaper September 1, 2020. According to Leech this will be a free local news publication owned by East Arkansas Broadcasters and you can sign up by going to the Stuttgart Daily Leader Facebook page.
The old Stuttgart Daily Leader building has received a face lift and is currently under remodel. The 1,900 square feet will occupy Dorsey & Company, CPA and the 6,000 square feet in the back is being remodeled for future development.
The fundraiser for the Stuttgart Police Department body cameras are almost at goal. As of July only $10,000 were needed.
The old Carter Dental Lab has been cleaned up by the First Methodist Church and a new parking lot should be under construction soon.
While rental property is hard to come by in Stuttgart, Leech said the housing market for purchase is plentiful.
Mr. Pancho’s remains closed and most of the local restaurants and businesses are struggling during the pandemic according to Leech.
“Shop local. Now more than ever we need all to support local businesses,” said Leech. “Local merchants are the heart of our community.”
Other support efforts Leech encourages the community to get involved in is keeping the town clean, recycling and filling out the 2020 Census.
“We must get our citizens counted or we will lose millions of dollars of funding over the next ten years,” said Leech. “I am not aware of any big push going on at this time, but time is running out – we must make sure everybody is counted.”