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Upping theAnte By almost any standard Faulkner County qualifies as a highly competitive banking market. Faulkner County has more than a dozen banks betting that its population and job growth will pay off financially.

US Bank adds market president, expands services, PAGE 3


the faulkner county business journal

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elcome to the newest partnership between two of Conway’s oldest institutions. Since 1879 the Log Cabin Democrat has been covering the news in our city and county and since 1890 the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce has worked to grow and represent the interests of the local business community. Today we combine those decades of experience to bring you the Faulkner County Business Journal. The Faulkner County Business Journal will bring you a comprehensive look at our local business community – one that has been nationally recognized for its vibrancy during the widespread national downturn. Each month the Journal’s feature story will showcase one business and give you a closer look at their newest developments. This month US Bank introduces you to Chad Rawls their new mar-

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ket president for Conway. Each month the Journal will feature articles relating to education, green initiatives, and technology. In this edition we feature a new master plan for Central Baptist College, plans for redeveloping brownfield sites, and get a closer look into the Conway BarCamp Conference. We have also partnered with Roger Lewis and Pulse of Conway to offer a monthly snapshot of economic indicators. Mr. Lewis will provide a statistical overview of our economy and in depth analysis explaining the relevance to the business community. What may prove to be one of our most popular features, “What’s That Going To Be” will answer questions about one of the numerous construction sites we see around town. We will also feature an editorial periodically for those issues that impact the local economy. Recently Arkansas’s fledgling natural gas

industry has been attacked by out of state groups promoting an image of an industry that is unregulated, irresponsible and dangerous to our environment. Nothing is further from the truth. We ask for cool heads and open communication as we can only now begin to measure the full impact of an industry that will soon eclipse agriculture’s economic contributions to Arkansas. We believe that the Faulkner County Business Journal will become the premier source for business news in our area. Nobody can cover our business community better than the Chamber and our partner, the Log Cabin Democrat. This edition is packed full of information that we trust will be informative and help showcase our incredibly diverse, growing economy. BRAD LACY PRESIDENT, CONWAY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE


US Bank adds president, expands services By almost any standard Faulkner County qualifies as a highly competitive banking market. Faulkner County has more than a dozen banks betting that its population and job growth will pay off financially. This month, one of those banks just “upped the ante.” In August, US Bank announced Chad Rawls as president of the Conway market. Rawls, a Conway resident, was tapped for the position from US Banks Corporate lending team. Michael Shelley, US Bank Regional President for Arkansas, said Rawls was a natural fit for the position. “During the past five years with US Bank, Chad has distinguished himself as an excellent commercial banker and in fact won Annual Pinnacle recognition, the highest performance recognition in the bank. “Chad and his wife, Natalie, live in Conway. They are both UCA alums and are involved in the community. Chad exemplifies the community involved banker we want to have in place leading our teams across the state,” Shelley said. Rawls thinks that US Bank can bring “unmatched stability” and new products to the Faulkner County market. “Our renewed focus on Conway and Faulkner County is a great opportunity for the bank. This market has been a refuge for small business the last several years. Selfishly, I’m excited about working in Conway. I’ve lived here for 10 years. We go to church here. My daughter goes to Sallie Cone. We’re thrilled about diving into the community personally and professionally.”

The last decade

US Bank has been active in Conway since late 2001 when they acquired what was then Firstar Bank. They have three branches serving Faulkner County. Their main branch is on Van Ronkle Avenue in downtown Conway. They also have branches on Prince Street in west Conway and in Quitman. Rawls is eager to add customers and projects to US Bank’s current rolls. Rawls said, “We want to compete. US Bank has a successful record here that we want to build on. We have financed some of Faulkner County’s highest profile customers and projects.” Recently, US Bank has provided financing for the new 12 screen Cine-

Branch Manager Alicia Dewees and Conway Market President Chad Rawls have both been recognized nationally within US Bank for customer service and performance.

mark Theatre at Conway Towne Center, the Student Life Center for Second Baptist Church and The Pointe at Conway, a 170 unit apartment complex. In March, US Bank was awarded the financing for the City of Conway’s $2.8 million line of credit.

Growing with Conway

With a renewed community focus and the resources of one of the nation’s largest and most stable financial institutions, US Bank is confident it can stand out in the Faulkner County market. Rawls made clear that US Bank is committed to expanding their personal service to Faulkner County customers. “We want to be neighbors serving neighbors. Adding a market president was the first step. Two weeks ago, we added another mortgage officer. By the end of year, I hope to add an additional business banking officer and an investment team to the suite of services US

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ur renewed focus on Conway and Faulkner County is a great opportunity for the bank. Bank offers Conway.” Rawls believes these additions will only complement US Bank’s existing assets. “We’ve got a branch manager in Alicia Dewees who is recognized nationally for consumer banking excellence. She has been serving customers in this market for five years. We’ve got the best treasury management products in Arkansas. Nationally, we are a leader in Small Business loans. We’ve got

Conway representation on our statewide advisory board in Speaker Robbie Wills. We are ready to be a partner in Conway’s continued economic growth.”

A commitment to community

US Bank is active in a number of community activities throughout Arkansas. Rawls is on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics of Arkansas. Other Conway associates are active in local non-profits and civic organizations. This is something Rawls is committed to expanding. “I want every US Bank staff member in Faulkner County engaged, involved and serving our community in some way. Our doors are open wide to folks with banking needs or community needs.” In October, US Bank will literally open their doors to the community as they host a reception formally introducing Rawls as market president. FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 3


A&P to rebrand, market as CVB BY KATHY WYRICK VP OF INVESTOR RELATIONS In 2008, the Conway Advertising and Promotion Commission began branding Conway advertising with the green “C” logo. It was, and still is, extremely important to the commission and its partnering organizations to have a unified brand and marketing campaign for Conway. Doing so has allowed us the opportunity to garner strength and trust in our brand. With that accomplished, we are ready for the next step of the process — launching the Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau. In the past, the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce has served as the location for visitors to obtain information about the area. It will continue to be the location, but with the appropriate signage and identification visitors look for. The purpose of a convention and visitors bureau is to promote economic development. According to the preliminary report from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, in 2009, Faulkner County had more than 345,800 visitors with travel expenditures equaling $75,306,817. As a CVB, we are responsible for marketing Conway to visitors and selling it to meeting planners, groups, sporting events and more. As we move forward, we will further develop partnerships with those who have invested their time in bringing events to Conway. Those who plan events have the choice. We plan to do everything possible to increase the instances where Conway is chosen as the location. As an example of this, in March, we secured and hosted the first Bass Pro Shop Crappie Masters tournament in Arkansas. With 160 anglers from 14 states in Conway for numerous days, the economic impact was substantial. 82% of the participants were from out of state. Additionally, prior to the tournament, teams averaged six trips at 3.5 days each for prefishing. We will bring this tournament back to Conway in 2011. Exciting happenings are definitely ahead. As we increase our focus, we believe others will increasingly understand what we have known for some time. There are many reasons to Choose Conway. 4 | FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

cbc plans for future growth Over the next 10 years President Terry Kimbrow plans to more than double Central Baptist College enrollment. This fall CBC will host more than 700 students from over 15 states. By 2020, Kimbrow expects 1,500. “We have seen steady growth for the last several years. As we add four year programs, they have all been successful,” Kimbrow said. Existing campus infrastructure is already feeling the strain of a growing student body. Parking lots and residence halls are at capacity. To prepare for the next 10 years, Central Baptist has recently unveiled a 16-step

CBC BY THE NUMBERS

• 68 full-time staff with 80-100 part time and adjunct staff • Payroll of more than $2.8 million • Construction budget is estimated to be more than $10 million • CBC currently offers 18 four-year degrees

master plan that includes campus-wide renovations and the addition of four three-story buildings. The plan was developed by Rik Sowell of Sowell Architects. Sowell said “we’re planning a campus that will have a unified look. We’re going to integrate some of the architectural elements from the original Old Main and the new bell tower.

“Long term, we will eliminate some of the modern elements on existing buildings,” he said. The plan includes steps to: establish a new image from College Avenue; preserve and expand trees and landscaping; and reclaim the interior of the campus for traditional “quad style” green spaces. The plan is contingent on factors such as enrollment and funding. CBC is currently conducting a feasibility study to establish the scope of an upcoming capital campaign. Kimbrow would like to put the plan into action within the next 12 months. “We have grown in recent years to the point that if we do not build, we will begin to see a decline in the quality of services we can offer students.”


Conway Economy at a Glance Unemployment Rate June 2010 US ....................................9.5% Arkansas............................7.5% Faulkner County .............. 7.5% Conway..............................6.3% Labor Force June 2010 Conway: Employed........................25,852 Unemployed.....................1,745 Total................................27,597 Faulkner County* Employed........................51,900 Unemployed.....................4,125 Total................................56,025 *Includes Conway Sales Tax Collections Conway* June 2010........................$1,829,278 2009........................$1,753,505 Percent Change 4.3% Total Year to Date (June) 2010 .....................$10,662,206 2009 .................... $10,140,174 Percent Change: 5.2% *Tax Rate 1.75% Faulkner County* May 2010...........................$668,612 2009...........................$689,479 Percent Change -3.0% Total Year to Date (March) 2010........................$3,731,769 2009 .......................$3,775,880 Percent Change -.1.2% *Tax Rate 0.5% Restaurant Sales June 2010 .................... $11,841,898 2009......................$11,148,294 Percent Change 6.2% Sales year to date (June) 2010......................$68,842,609 2009 .....................$65,696,195 Percent Change 4.8% Hotel Sales June 2010........................$1,824,639 2009 ...................... $1,808,224 Percent Change .9% Sales Year to Date (June) 2010........................$9,268,866 2009....................... $8,951,217 Percent Change 3.6%

Building Permits Single Family Residents Year to Date Through July 2010 ...................... 163 permits 2009 ..................... 158 permits Percent Change 3.2% Total for the Year 2009 ..................... 259 Permits 2008 ..................... 192 Permits Percent Change 34.9% Average Construction Cost Year to Date (July)* 2010.......................... $169,042 2009...........................$179,659 Percent Change -5.9% *Not including land or lot improvements Average Square Footage Year to Date (July)* 2010 ..........................2,582 2009 ..........................2,574 Percent Change: -.3%% * Total under Roof Lottery Sales Faulkner County July..........................$1,347,989 From Inception*.....$15,818,877 Per Capita ...................$148.08 Total State July .......................$37,961,692 From Inception*...$407,881,693 Per Capita.....................$142.85 * Lottery began September 28, 2009 Natural Gas Wellhead Price per MCF* July 2010 ......................... $4.36 2009.......................... $3.43 2008 ....................... $10.62 Yearly Average 2009 ......................... $3.71 2008.......................... $8.07 2007.......................... $6.37 2006 ......................... $6.40 2005 ......................... $7.33 2004 ......................... $5.46 2003 ......................... $4.88 2002 ......................... $2.95 *1000 cubic feet Number of Wells* Faulkner County..................214 Total in Field . ..................2,845 *As of August 19, 2010 Estimated Life Time Value of Production* Total Field.........$6,231,807,831 *As of June 10, 2010

Information provided by pulseofconway.com

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conway restaurants top $130 MILLION in ’09 BY ROGER LEWIS

There are 198 establishments that sell prepared food in Conway as determined by collection of the two percent Advertising and Promotion tax. The criterion for collection of the tax (often referred to as the hamburger tax) is for food that is prepared and ready to eat at the point of sale. Restaurants include delis in grocery stores, gas stations and specialty shops such as those selling ice cream, donuts and bakery items. The 198 places also include seasonal businesses such as shaved ice vendors and concession stands. If you pare down the 198 places that sell prepared food — whether it’s ice cream, pizza, donuts, or a full meal — as their main, full-time business, the number is closer to 150 establishments. The amount of restaurant sales in Conway is formidable — over 11 million dollars in June 2010. For all of 2009, the sales were slightly over 130 million dollars. Sales year-todate for 2010 are up 4.8% over the same period for 2009 with projected sales of 136 million dollars for 2010. The top four restaurants in sales for June were TGI Friday’s, Chick-

fil-A, Chili’s Bar & Grill and Cracker Barrel, in that order, each doing between 300 and 350 thousand dollars for the month. The next six in sales to round out the top 10 restaurants, not in any particular order, were four of the McDonalds restaurants, Marketplace Grill and Colton’s Steak House & Grill. Each had sales in the range of $225 to $260 thousand for the month. The month-to-month rank in sales varies among about a dozen restaurants in the top 10. Mike’s Place and Outback Steak House often break through into the top 10. Thirty-five restaurants average more than 100 thousand dollars per month in sales, another 40 restaurants average more than 50 thousand and another 40 average more than 25 thousand a month. How much sales revenue is required for a viable restaurant varies according to the type and size? There are a number of restaurants with sales below 25 thousand a month that have been in business for a number of years whereas Does’, San Francisco Bread Company and Mickie’s Blue Fish Grill with sales in the 25 to 60 thousand a month range, could not survive. The moderate growth of overall sales of less than 5% for 2010 yearto-date and the addition of some high-sales volume restaurants such

as TGI Friday’s and Logan’s Road House has caused sales in many restaurants to decline. Restaurants that have been in business since January of 2009 have had an overall 3.7 percent decline in revenue for the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009. On an individual basis many of these restaurants had double digit declines with a few more than 30 percent. Of course there are successes with some restaurants’ sales increasing more than 30 percent. The ratio of the number of restaurants with declining sales was 3-to-1 to the number with increasing sales. The restaurant business is very competitive with new restaurants opening regularly and others closing. During the 18 months from January 1, 2009, through June 30 of this year, 22 new restaurants opened and 12 closed. The notable openings were TGI Friday’s, Logan’s Road House, Slim Chickens, Dave Ward Drive McDonald’s and US Pizza. The notable closings were Doe’s, Mickie’s Blue Fish Grill, San Francisco Bread Company and Western Sizzlin. More information on restaurant sales including individual restaurants can be found at Pulse of Conway website, www.pulseofconway.com.


40

Old Morrilton Hwy

Gentry Lake

Robins Lake

Days Lake

64 65

Skyline Dr

Cadron Valley Country Club

3710 Newcastle

64

Meadowlake Rd

Donaghey Ave

Gleason

2920 Ashley Drive

65 65

64

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Centennial Valley Golf Club

Mountain View Park

krid Har

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er S

Hendrix College

Salem Rd

Donaghey Ave

266

65 40

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5145 Quarry Drive

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t

eS

c rin

Laurel Park

Caldwell St

60

Conway Country Club

E Oak St

14 Summerland Ct. 65

Fifth Avenue Park

Airport Park

Central Baptist College

Dennis F Cantrell Field

Oak Grove Cemetery

S Salem Rd

Highway 60 W

University Of Central Arkansas

Dave Ward Dr 286

ider arkr

SH

286

286

St

1125 Charlotte Cir.

65

365

TOP 5 RESIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS FOR AUGUST Price $260,000.00 $265,000.00 $269,900.00 $295,000.00 $360,000.00

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Brownfields offer economic option

BY WES CRAIGLOW CITY OF CONWAY PLANNING DEPARTMENT

The City of Conway has witnessed explosive economic and population growth for the last 60 years. Our business community rivals anything in our region. However, some businesses have had a finite lifespan on a particular site, and now these sites rest empty or underused. In other cases, older sites have been in operation since long before current environmental best management practices and continue to operate in a less-thanideal manner. Many of these sites experience a real, but unknown, negative impact on the soil and water

quality of their immediate area and other areas downstream. Finally, others simply stand as blight, which only acts to discourage development interest. In many cases, these sites will qualify for the Federal designation of Brownfield. Brownfields are described as, “Abandoned, idle, or underused industrial and commercial areas where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.” To the casual observer, these Brownfields often exist as eyesores. Many of them are vacant or nearly-vacant and do little more than take up space, complicate environmental issues and deter redevelopment in the area. However, when private partners are willing to take advantage of operational and financial support provided by the City of Conway, these Brownfields represent opportunities for the community and the

developer. They can be reclaimed as clean, productive and profitable development sites. The Conway Department of Planning and Development intends to capitalize on these opportunities through a comprehensive and sustainable action plan. The new Brownfield Redevelopment Program will connect technical assistance and direct Federal funding to local property owners, developers, financiers and community and economic development agencies committed to economic growth and environmental stewardship in our urban areas. The ultimate goal is that the Conway real estate market will witness the complete life cycle of these older sites: from yesterday’s contributions, to today’s fallow, to tomorrow’s promise. For information, contact Wes Craiglow at the Department of Planning and Development, Conway City Hall, 501-450-6105 or wes.craiglow@cityofconway.org. FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 7


CHAMBER ANNOUNCES TWO NEW HIRES The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the addition of two new professionals to their team. Sept. 1 marked the first day that Bart Shaw and Lindsay Grifford began their respective roles as VP of Operations and Director of Member Services. As VP of Operations, Shaw will manage day-to-day Chamber operations. He will also coordinate Chamber events such as Toad Suck Daze. Shaw comes to the Chamber from the University of Central Arkansas. Shaw joined UCA in 2007 as Director of Development for the College of Business. In January 2010, he assumed the role as Interim Director of Development, where he coordinates the university’s central fundraising efforts and reports directly to the Vice President of Institutional Advancement. During his tenure at UCA, Shaw raised more than $900,000 and has been instrumental in

opening the new $16 million College of Business Building. Lindsay Grifford also comes to the Chamber from UCA, where she served as Director of New Student Programs. During this time, Grifford’s responsibilities included retention programming and student leadership and development. Prior to serving as the Director of New Student Programs, Grifford served as the Director of Study Abroad. As Director of Member Services she will serve as the primary contact for new and prospective Chamber members. She will also act as the liaison for Conway Young Professionals and Leads groups. Both Shaw and Grifford earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at UCA. Brad Lacy said he expects each of them to succeed and hit the ground running. “Both Lindsay and Bart bring tremendous value to the Chamber. Having both come from an environment of customer service, event management and development, they were perfect fits for their respective job roles.”


cowork founders organize ‘barCamp’

Seventy businesses and more than 500 teachers attended this year’s Teacher’s Fair.

Amanda Bledsoe with Hurley Chiropractic gives a chair massage to a Conway teacher.

Joel Gill with Arkansas 4H Center handles an alligator as part of the Arkansas Outdoor Classroom program.

6th annual Teacher’s Fair kicks off school year More than 500 Conway area teachers started the 2010-11 school year at the 6th Annual Conway Area Chamber Teacher’s Fair. This year’s presenting sponsor was Conway Corporation. Seventy local businesses took part in this year’s fair. The businesses offered giveaways, promotions, products and services aimed at area educators.

On Aug. 20, more than 100 professionals representing the IT, marketing, engineering, graphic design and economic development industries gathered at UCA’s College of Business for an “un-conference” known simply as “BarCamp.” Co-organizer Dan Decker said the event got its start in the Conway Cowork office he shares with several other local web developers. “We organized BarCamp out of a desire to promote community amongst tech-minded people in the central Arkansas area. We were very humbled by the response we received from the registrants/attendees and from our generous sponsors.” The BarCamp agenda was set by attendees upon arrival. They chose from a number of topics volunteered by their colleagues. The topics were as diverse as the industries represented. Campers heard about the latest trends in geosocial applications, web development and tech start up financing. This was the first event of its kind in central Arkansas, and Decker says it will not be the last. “We are currently discussing ideas how Conway Cowork can keep building community and promoting technical professionals in the area. Some of our ideas include holding monthly classes/seminars to provide technology education to the less technical folks in the area.” The success of the 2010 BarCamp is proof that Conway and central Arkansas have a critical mass of much-needed technical talent, says Allison Nicholas, Team Leader of College Recruiting at Acxiom. “We are very fortunate to have such gifted groups of technical and creative minds in central Arkansas. I think BarCamp proves that there is need and purpose for a collaborative learning community that is informal and adaptable based on the needs and interests of the members.” FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 9


IN THE WATER, IN THE AIR, IN THE HILLS

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A handful of recent events prompt us to offer a short response to environmental concerns related to the natural gas industry. The first is the release of a Sundance Film Festival documentary film on HBO titled “Gasland.” “Gasland” spends most of its time and energy exploring the impact of the “fracking” process on drinking water. In the film’s climax, two Colorado landowners light their tap water on fire. This concerned us as much as it would any reasonable person. However, some investigation showed that the landowner’s state environmental protection agencies tested their drinking water and showed the gasses present to be “naturally occurring biogenic methane gas in well and no impact from oil and gas activities.” The second is a visit to Conway by the mayor of Dish, Texas. The mayor’s visit was part of his

he cause (of earthquakes) isn’t natural gas drilling. ... It’s more detectors and more reports. nationwide tour to tout his experience and concerns with the natural gas industry. The mayor of Dish has gone the extra mile to explore what he believes are the toxic side effects of living in an active natural gas field. Thankfully, the Texas Department of State Health Services has also gone the extra mile. Their most recent studies show that the residents of Dish, Texas, exposure to contaminants “was not greater than

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that of the general U.S. population.” Finally, if it seems like there have been more and more earthquake reports lately, it’s because there have been more earthquake reports. The cause isn’t natural gas drilling. The cause isn’t even more earthquakes. It’s more detectors and more reports. This spring, the Arkansas Geological Survey (the earthquake counters) installed the “Arkansas Seismic Network.” It is a series of six, state of the art, permanent detection stations located in State Parks close to areas of historic seismic activity. Their goal is to “establish better and more uniform earthquake detection outside of the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ).” That’s what each of these issues — water, air and land — need. Better and more uniform standards of reporting. The positive economic impacts of the natural gas industry are obvious in

Faulkner County. The positive environmental impacts of burning natural gas rather than coal or oil products is unquestioned. Electricity-generating facilities fired by natural gas produce half the green house gas emissions of coal-fired generators, natural gas is much cleaner burning than oil products such as diesel and gasoline, and natural gas is produced right here in America (including Arkansas) and does not have to be imported from foreign countries that don’t like us. The environmental impacts of producing natural gas aren’t so easily seen. Documentary films, speeches and tales spread by word of mouth aren’t how to measure the environmental impacts of natural gas drilling. Scientific data, transparency and open communication are the only way we can measure the impact of the natural gas collection on our environment.


Board votes to support Conway2012 proposal When the Conway school district goes to voters with their Conway2012 millage proposal, they will take the support of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce with them. At their June meeting, the Chamber board voted to endorse the Conway2012 plan. Board chair Lori Ross said not only was the additional investment needed, it was in the Chamber’s best interest. “For decades Conway Public Schools has helped drive our city’s growth. Our economy relies on the quality of our schools. This proposal will help us compete and prepares us for the next generation of excellence in public education.” At the heart of the proposal is a 1.9 mill increase in the property tax. The increase represents an impact of less than $60 per year on the average Conway home. The plan calls for the reconstruction of the existing Conway West high school academic building and the construction of a new elementary school. The current campus was built in 1968 when district enrollment was roughly one fourth current numbers. Currently, the Conway School District has the lowest millage of any school district in Faulkner County and is in the bottom half of millage rates statewide. The plan will set in motion an investment of more than $50 million in school facilities. The new facility at Conway West will include 85 additional classrooms and 10 science labs. The current facility has only one dedicated science lab. The additional elementary school is estimated to cost approximately $15 million. On Sept. 13, the district will host an open house at Conway High West from 5-6:15 p.m. Attendees will be able to tour the existing campus and get information about the Conway2012 proposal. The election is Sept. 21. Polling locations are The Don Owen Center on Lower Ridge Road and the McGee Center on College Avenue. Early voting will take place at the Faulkner County Courthouse Sept. 14-20.

WHAT’S THAT GONNA BE? C

The Clubhouse at Centerstone Apartments

enterstone is a mixed use development with 264 apartments and a 50,000-square-foot lifestyle center with restaurants, retail and office space.

n Where is that?

Centerstone Apartments are located at the intersection of South Donaghey and Moix Blvd.

n When will it be completed?

The first phase of Centerstone Apartments will be available for occupancy in January of 2011.

n Who’s building it?

Centerstone is a Salter Properties development. For more information visit www.SalterProperties.com.

FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 11



2010-09 Faulkner County Business Journal