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Chamber officials announce “Little Rock Love Connection” recruitment bonus

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. speaks with Rajesh Chokhani, Board Chair of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, at the chamber's headquarters on Monday, May 1, 2023.
Daniel Breen
/
KUAR News
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. speaks with Rajesh Chokhani, Board Chair of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, at the chamber's headquarters on Monday, May 1, 2023.

Some of Little Rock’s largest employers are now offering a $10,000 bonus in an effort to recruit more out-of-state talent.

The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce announced Monday its new “Little Rock Love Connection” campaign to make the central Arkansas area more attractive both to new residents and to natives who’ve left for work.

Chamber President and CEO Jay Chesshir said, so far, over 30 businesses have agreed to partner on the program.

“With record unemployment, with an amazing economy that continues to grow, we have lots of companies who need talented professionals today,” Chesshir said. “We thought, what if we created a campaign that connected, that made a match-make, between the talented professional and the company looking for those talented professionals?”

Under the program, companies will receive resumes from potential employees from the Chamber of Commerce. New hires will receive a $5,000 bonus, then another $5,000 after one year of employment.

Chesshir says the effort is geared particularly toward Arkansans who have left the region, giving them an incentive to move back.

“We have the opportunity to not only create a partnership, a match between a person and a company… but also in doing so have the opportunity to acclimate those folks back into our community, whether they’ve been here before or not,” Chesshir said.

The cost of the bonuses is split evenly between employers and an incentive fund established by a $1 million private donation. The first 50 Arkansans to successfully refer someone to a job through the program can also get a bonus of $501, the number of Little Rock’s telephone area code.

A number of the city’s large employers have agreed to partner on the initiative including Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and L’Oréal USA, as well as several technology, finance and healthcare companies. The new effort builds on the “Love Little Rock” initiative first begun by the city in 2017 in an effort to recruit a second Amazon headquarters to the region.

A similar measure, called Life Works Here, was launched in Bentonville in November of 2020. According to its website, the program garnered over 66,000 applicants, of whom 65% had no prior connection to Northwest Arkansas.

Daniel Breen is News Director of Little Rock Public Radio.