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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Pryor, June 13, 1974. Interview A-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Luring businesses can harm states

Pryor resents that the industry coming to Arkansas in the 1950s and 1960s came only in exchange for incentives that hurt Arkansans. Instead of luring these damaging industries to the state, Pryor intends to bring in businesses that will pay their workers well and devote themselves to their responsibilities as corporate citizens. He also hopes to smooth over the relationship between business and labor, which he believes is spreading.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Pryor, June 13, 1974. Interview A-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
What type industry are you looking for?
DAVID PRYOR:
Well, we need primarily. . . well I don't know what. . . you mean whether we need steel mills or this sort of thing or garment factories or what.
WALTER DE VRIES:
But you're going to get away from the position of this state will take any industry at all. . .
DAVID PRYOR:
That's right.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Okay, so you're going to kind of go on a selective growth pattern?
DAVID PRYOR:
Selective growth.
WALTER DE VRIES:
High pay industries.
DAVID PRYOR:
High pay industries. Many industries that have come into the state of Arkansas in the past ten years. . . well, let me say in the past 20 years, have come in only if we would waive property taxes. Have come in only if the city in which they were coming in would build them a building. They would come in only if they felt, I thought on many occasions, if they thought they could take something from the community or something from the state and without any idea or real thought of ever putting anything back into the state. Too many garment factories and too many shirt factories. Too many groups such as this that came in and exploited our wage scale and our people and kept their money in Chicago or Newark, New Jersey, or somewhere like this and packed up and left. I think we can be very selective about the type of industry that we bring in.
JACK BASS:
Being selective, what specifically would you like? What kind of industry? Do you plan to take, play an active role in recruiting industry? Selling the state to industrial prospects?
DAVID PRYOR:
I've only had about two weeks to really think about this since the election and how active a role I don't know. I will be a very cooperative governor and I will appoint people who I think will attract the right type of industry. When I say the right type of industry, I say one that will pay good wages and two that will accept their responsibilities of citizenship in the state. And they will not balk on paying a few dollars taxes in the school system. Appointments to Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, for example. . . I'll be very careful to try to choose those people who, you know, are really going to have the state at heart. As to whether or not they're going to try to get General Motors to locate down here or Kelloggs or something like that, I don't have any thoughts there. Any specific thoughts.
JACK BASS:
How about industry that's heavily unionized?
DAVID PRYOR:
Well, we're eventually. . . I think everyone in this state realizes that we are eventually. . . that our economy in this country is going to be, to a great degree. . . most workers are going to belong to some type of organization or association or labor union. And I think it is a fact of life and I think we've got to realize this and I think we've got to make ready for it and I think we've got to, again, we've got to open up channels of communication where we can talk. One of the highest per capita income counties in this state is Saline county, Benton. They have two steel mills, Alcoa and Reynolds, highly unionized. Some of the labor union officers are on the board of directors of the chamber of commerce. There's a great feeling and spirit of cooperation there, and I think we can build this all over this state. I haven't seen any detriment or anything bad happening in Benton, Arkansas, or Saline county that I could have a fear of. They're clean unions, they're steel workers, they're good citizens. Pay taxes. The school districts are extremely well off financially, in fact some of the richest in the state. It's one of the what we call hot towns of this state because it's growing, it's healthy. They have a good relationship. And I think if labor is going to fight business and business is going to fight labor there's no way to build that good relationship. I think we've got to prepare to build that relationship, statewide.