At the Conway Development Corporation’s Annual Meeting of Membership Oct. 29, Brad Lacy, president and CEO, said in his president’s report that the CDC is pretty dependent on land sale to make budget.
Lacy said this year the CDC has interacted with 20 different companies that are actively looking to lease or purchase land in Conway.
"That does not include people who just make a phone call," he said. "These are people that we’ve had some sort of dialogue with.
Some of these companies have filled out a request for proposal consisting of up to 50 pages of demographic and finance questions.
Dozens of Conway development sites are being featured in a new initiative by the state to better position Arkansas to strategically compete for development projects requiring large acreage.
Monday, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission joined Governor Mike Beebe to announce the launch of Advance Arkansas Sites, a website that lists each development’s location, demographics and workforce information.
"Arkansas must use every tool available to highlight our state’s economic advantages in a competitive global marketplace," Beebe said. "Companies looking to call Arkansas home need easy access to the right information that will immediately put us in the conversation for potential projects large and small alike."
The information and interactive map are compiled through a partnership with Entergy Corporation. One that the Conway Downtown Partnership has had for a number of years.
Jamie Gates, Conway Downtown Partnership senior vice president, said he hopes the state wide effort will cause people working in the site selection field to take notice of Conway’s available industrial, commercial and office space.
Gates said the CDC not only uses the Advance Arkansas Sites as a marketing tool, but a resource to respond to inquires.
The former Nucor production plant at 1800 Sturgis Rd. is driving the most industrial traffic, Lacy said.
"Most companies are on very tight schedules," he said. "They don’t have time to wait for a building to be built, so they’re looking for something they can move into."
Nucor has a lot of bells and whistles, Lacy said, including a rail spur that goes through the building.
It has been on and off the market for the past 10 years. Between 2000 and 2005 it was on the market. It was then taken off for commercial reconstruction, and has since been put back on.
Last month, the CDC spent a day with an international corporation who was interested in occupying the structure.
Lacy said because of the city’s demographics, young, well educated and fast growing, white collar companies are attracted to the area, but they are no different from manufacturers in the sense that they want an available building.
The average square footage requirement that the CDC keeps coming across for white collar office space is 60,000 square feet, Lacy said.
There is currently no building with 60,000 square feet of available office space in Conway.
"When a white collar company wants to walk in a building and you don’t have it you’re disqualified from the search at that point, and we typically get a lot of requests," Gates said.
The CDC has tried to think of innovative ways to create more office space such as flipping an industrial building like IBM did in Columbia, Mo.
The City of Columbia, with the help of local banks, took a building in its industrial park and turned it into class B office space. IBM’s lease agreement has the company paying $10 million to the city over 10 years for construction costs.
If IBM were to leave, the city would own the building and IBM would still be responsible for the lease payments.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)