Evidence to support the continuation of the one-half cent economic development tax was presented during Tuesday's EDCCC quarterly meeting. The tax is expected to be placed on the ballot for a special election to be held on March 11, 2014. Although 2013 has been a good year for Clark County, Dr. Lewis Shepherd, chair of the EDCCC, said it has also been a tough year. Shepherd said he believes that the worst of economic slump are coming to an end. Shepherd said he believes that Arkadelphia and Clark County can emerge stronger and better as a community once the economic woes have ceased. Shepherd referred to a survey conducted by the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce in which business leaders have expressed optimism for 2014. According to the statistics, 56 percent of business leaders said revenues are expected to increase slightly over the next six months, while 68 percent expect revenues will remain the same. "Overall, half of them said they expect revenues to be up over the next six months," Shepherd said. In addition, Shepherd noted that more than 40 percent of business leaders expect to do more hiring in the coming months. "We have some good signs on the horizon. We just need to continue to press forward and in doing so, keep the optimism growing, speak positively within our community about what is going on, and certainly the need to continue the economic development tax for our county," said Shepherd. The CCIC, city of Arkadelphia, city of Gum Springs and Clark CountyQuorum Court have all endorsed the continuation of the tax. Shepherd said the tax is a long-term investment for the county that will pay off tremendously down the road. Other items addressed Tuesday: • Kay Brockwell, interim economic developer, noted that Vikon Farms is changing the name of its Arkansas operation to Hill Stern Farms. "It's changing because it is severing its contacts with parent company in California," said Brockwell. According to Brockwell, the incentive agreements originally made with Vikon Farms of Arkansas will transfer to Hill Stern Farms. "There will be no change in the amount of the incentive," said Brockwell, who noted that most of the money has been spent to renovate the building and purchase the necessary equipment for operation. Brockwell said renovation on the building is currently in progress. Brockwell also informed members of the EDCCC that funding has been secured for the construction of Rainbow of Challenges. A ground-breaking on the facility, which will be located inside the Clark County Business Park, is scheduled for this spring. • Board member Bill Wright, who will be coming off the EDCCC at the end of the year, urged members of the EDCCC to look at the possibility of allocating some money from the economic development sales tax to construct a bypass around Arkadelphia. Wright said that having the by-pass will likely attract more business and industries to the area. • The EDCCC's land pursuant committee will look into the possibility of acquiring the Red Ball Oxygen property. The committee will make a recommendation to the EDCCC at a later date.