The Conway Downtown Partnership celebrated its 10-year anniversary with lunch Tuesday for about 150 of its best friends.
Fans of the Partnership sat elbow-to-elbow at Michelangelo’s, a restaurant that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
Some of downtown’s business residents were featured in a video listing the accomplishments in downtown, saying that because of its vibrant downtown, Conway is an exciting place to be.
In giving the annual report, Kim Williams, Partnership executive director, said in 10 years the organization has grown to 100 partners; there have been 15 major projects with $68 million invested bringing "new life to Downtown." With 560,000 square feet of space, downtown now boasts 88 percent occupancy, Williams said.
Downtown’s rebirth began with a master plan created in 2001. It continued with streetscape and infrastructure improvements that have helped make Downtown Conway "an exciting place to be," Williams said.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was the featured speaker, telling the group that his first visit to Conway was as a delegate to Boys State.
He recognized back then that Conway is a special place.
"Conway has become what it is because of the people — generations back — who decided to create a community they would never see, plant oak trees in whose shade they would never sit," McDaniel said.
That spirit has continued, he said, with leaders who continue to invest, even though the future is blurry.
McDaniel said two demographics are in Conway’s favor. "You are young; you are educated.
"Young people come to Conway for an education, but they find a home," McDaniel said.
He gave special attention to Conway Corp., calling it a model for other utilities because of its cautious, conservative management that has attracted and encouraged investment.
Mayor Tab Townsell, in introducing McDaniel, also praised the Downtown Partnership, applauding the "extra touches" that contribute to the spirit of Downtown, such as flowers in baskets and murals painted on old walls.
"Do we need those things?" Townsell asked. "Yes, we do.
"We provide a Quality of Place so those who come here will find a Quality of Life."
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 505-1234.)