The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce embarked on a capital campaign with seven areas of focus.
President and CEO Brad Lacy summarized the Conway 125 capital campaign during the Conway Kiwanis Club meeting earlier this week. The name is a celebration of the Chamber's 125th anniversary.
The projects include Startup Space, Trails Everywhere, Roundabout Art, Wayfinding Signage, Interstate Beautification, Splash Pads and the Grand Theatre.
The chamber and Conway Development Corporation will partner with Conway Corporation to develop the Arnold Innovation Center, a downtown facility designed to be “the epicenter of Conway’s startup community,” Lacy said.
The building will be named in honor of longtime Conway Corp CEO Richie Arnold, who retired in 2017.
Lacy said the addition of pedestrian overpasses such as the one at Central Landing, which he noted was the first interstate overpass in the city to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists, is part of the plan to expand the trails system citywide.
Large-scale public art of all kinds can be added to Conway’s roundabouts through the use of private funds and a partnership with the city, Lacy said.
His vision is similar to roundabout art in Bend, Oregon, which Lacy said “does roundabout art well.”
Wayfinding signage will benefit residents and tourists, he said, noting that oftentimes residents don’t take advantage of city features because they are unaware of them.
Interstate beautification is important, Lacy said.
“The ugliest part of our city is the part that 63,000 people see every day,” he told the Kiwanis Club, adding that businesses the chamber tries to attract to the city don’t “get Conway” until they exit the interstate, drive downtown and into west Conway. “Then they understand Conway.”
While a public pool isn’t included in the capital campaign, splash pads are because their costs are “significantly lower,” he said.
The chamber purchased the Grand Theatre building and plans to expand it into a performing arts venue that can seat more than 400 guests.