Conway Development Corp.’s Brad Lacy and Conway Mayor Tab Townsell were recently honored by Arkansas Economic Developers for their work in Conway. Townsell was named District 2 Volunteer of the Year and Lacy was named Outstanding Economic Developer of Arkansas during the organization’s annual conference in Rogers.
Lacy actually nominated Townsell for his award as volunteer of the year.
"It’s wonderful, but I’m not volunteering for economic development like John Adams is volunteering for economic development," Townsell said. "I would think elected officials don’t fit. They’re not fully paid but not fully volunteer … But they lumped us with the volunteers."
He noted the county judge for Mississippi County was selected as volunteer of the year for District 1.
"It’s certainly a very nice honor, but in reality, I accepted for a lot of the volunteers that have been very active in economic development," Townsell said. "The city council, chamber members, board members, CDC board members, Committee of 100 people — all those folks have been pushing for economic development purposes — practically all of them volunteers. You really have to say this is one for the team. In all honesty, I have to accept this for team Conway."
Jamie Gates, vice president of government affairs at CDC, worked with Townsell prior to working at the CDC.
"It takes a team to create the positive change we have seen over the last 10 years. Tab’s recognition as economic development volunteer of the year was not for work on any one project, but for his willingness to improve our town so we can compete for those projects. No city in Arkansas has a better mayor or economic developer," Gates said.
Since he made a nomination, Lacy stepped down from the selection committee and did not know that two of his own employees had nominated him for the outstanding economic developer award.
"It was a surprise," Lacy said. "It was a big surprise. I was the conference chair and planning the conference. T. J. (Johnson) and Jamie (Gates) nominated me. Because I had nominated Tab, I voluntarily excused myself from the selection committee. It worked out well, I guess."
Lacy has been working in economic development for 13 years and has worked in Conway with the CDC for 10 years.
"It is a great honor to be recognized by your peers," Lacy said, noting that a large contingency from Conway was on-hand to see the award presentation.
"We had a huge group of folks from Conway up there in support of Brad. We’re proud of him, but we’re also proud of our Conway delegation. I think Brad and I were both awarded for our efforts with the Hewlett-Packard (deal), getting them to land in Conway," Townsell said.
Johnson said he thought the timing of Lacy’s award was perfect because it occurred during his 10th year at the CDC.
"I can’t think of anyone more deserving. When it comes to economic development, Brad is one of the best in the business. He has what it takes to land the big projects while at the same time taking care of local issues as they arise. This is all evident with the development of Conway over the past 10 years as well as the recent announcement of HP," said Johnson who has worked with Lacy since 2001. Johnson is the vice president of business development at the CDC.
"Brad’s peers have the same appreciation that we have for him. He has been a tireless servant to this community in so many ways. He chose our state and our profession," Gates said. Gates has worked at the CDC with Lacy for a little over a year, but has worked with him in "one fashion or another since 2001."
In addition to the information submitted by Gates and Johnson, former CDC president Bill Hegeman wrote a letter to the selection committee in support of Lacy.
"Over the past decade Brad has proven to be a leader in economic development. Under his guidance we took a risk and purchased 181 acres of dairy farm. We took a risk and faced the issue of liquor by the drink in a dry county," Hegeman wrote. "Today, in the middle of that old dairy farm construction is under way on Hewlett-Packard’s new 150,000-square-foot customer and technical support center."
"Day in and day out Brad is dedicated to the community and state he serves and proudly calls home. He has made sure that Conway is ready and willing to successfully compete in today’s economic development arena."
In 2010, Lacy will be the president of the Arkansas Economic Developers of Arkansas.