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CONWAY’S NEW CINEMA RECEIVES OVERWHELMING RESPONSE, PAGE 8

PHOTOS COURTESY OF WRIGHT WAY PHOTOGRAPHY


Each year, in the giving spirit of the holiday season, the Log Cabin Democrat joins Faulkner County to help our children.

Community

Christmas Card to Faulkner County Students

Dear Santa We all realize the value of a good education to children and to us. Som a lot more to worry abou e children have t than whether or not th ey are getting the most education. If we can he out of their lp with eyeglasses, dent al work, coats or school might just save a child’s su pplies...we life! This program is unique in that 10 0% of th e fu nd s re ce iv ed go di re ct st ud en ts who need it ly to th e through their school’s co unselor. The counselor equipped to know the is the person best unique needs of the stud ents, and the money is to use whenever needed there for them to improve children’s ch ances of getting the ed deserve. ucation they The C om m un it y C hr ist m as C ard will publi sh on C hr ist m as Day Ye ar s Day. Anyone w an d N ew ho contributes $1 will ha ve their name printed on th C om m un it y C hr ist m e as C ard. We’ll publish every name we receive This is also an inexpensiv . e way to get your whole family involved in helping during the holidays. Busin others esses and organizations can participate as well. Th e proc ee ds from th is proj ec t w ill be di vi de d prop or ti on al ly am Fa ul kn er C ou nt y Sc ho on g ol s.

Send $1 for each name to be listed, to: Log Cabin Democrat Community Christmas Card P.O. Box 969 Conway, AR 72033

OR click the

Community Christmas Card icon on thecabin.net to donate.

Donations should be received no later than Wednesday, December 22. Donations will still be accepted after this date, but your name may not appear. If you have any questions or comments, please call Kim Beard at 501-505-1254 or Jessica Cole at 501-505-1257.


Conway Economy at a Glance Unemployment Rate October 2010 US ....................................9.6% Arkansas............................7.8% Faulkner County .............. 6.7% Conway..............................5.7% Labor Force October 2010 Conway Employed........................25,461 Unemployed.....................1,549 Total................................27,010 Faulkner County* Employed........................51,107 Unemployed.....................3,670 Total................................54,777 *Includes Conway Sales Tax Collections Conway* September 2010........................$1,761,882 2009........................$1,752,130 Percent Change .56% Total Year to Date (September) 2010 .....................$16,185,048 2009 .................... $15,463,926 Percent Change: 4.7% *Tax Rate 1.75% Faulkner County* September 2010...........................$669,987 2009...........................$639,275 Percent Change 4.8% Total Year to Date (Sept.) 2010........................$5,760,299 2009 .......................$5,739,437 Percent Change .36% *Tax Rate 0.5% Restaurant Sales October 2010 .................... $12,408,320 2009......................$11,053,977 Percent Change 12.3% Sales year to date (Oct.) 2010....................$116,690,288 2009 ...................$109,249,998 Percent Change 6.8% *Includes mixed drink sales Hotel Sales (October) 2010........................$1,401,656 2009 ...................... $1,338,414 Percent Change 4.7% Sales Year to Date (Oct.) 2010......................$13,903,944 2009..................... $14,266,284 Percent Change -2.5% Building Permits Single Family Residents Year to Date Through Nov. 2010 ...................... 214 permits

2009 ..................... 249 permits Percent Change -14.1% Total for the Year 2009 ..................... 259 Permits 2008 ..................... 192 Permits Percent Change 34.9% Average Construction Cost Year to Date (November)* 2010.......................... $178,522 2009...........................$174,231 Percent Change 2.5% *Not including land or lot improvements Average Square Footage Year to Date (October)* 2010 ..........................2,673 2009 ..........................2,585 Percent Change: 3.4% *Total under Roof Lottery Sales Faulkner County November................$1,210,503 Annual*..................$16,366,806 Annual Per Capita .......$153.21 Total State November . ...........$35,501,321 Annual*................$425,941,532 Annual Per Capita........$149.42 *Dec. 1, 2009 - Nov. 30, 2010 Natural Gas Number of Active Wells* Faulkner County..................222 Total in Field . ..................2,928 *As of Oct. 12, 2010 Estimated Life Time Value of Production* Total Field.........$6,951,033,095 *As of Sept. 10, 2010 Severance Tax Distribution December Faulkner County...........$12,176 Conway.........................$15,683 For 2010 Faulkner County.........$171,544 Conway.......................$221,253 Wellhead Price per MCF* October 2010 ................................$3.51 2009.................................$3.60 2008.................................$6.38 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 *1,000 cubic feet

Information provided by pulseofconway.com

analyzing Faulkner County’s Billion Dollar Retail Market BY ROGER LEWIS

Faulkner County‘s annual retail sales are approximately $1.5 billion. Eighty percent of that ($1.2 billion) occurs in Conway. Conway is the trade center for the county and is becoming the trade center for the North Central Arkansas region. As retail options expand, the draw area will only widen. I have only anecdotal data, but fewer Faulkner County residents are traveling to Little Rock to shop and people come from as far as Russellville and Clinton to shop here. They no longer bypass Conway and head south. I was in the Conway Staples recently to buy an advertised special for an optical mouse. The lady in front of me picked up the last three — she wanted them for her classroom. She said she drove from Russellville to get these and that the Staples in Russellville is smaller and received only a limited stock of the items. The new Cinemark Towne Theater is going to draw from a wide area and have a positive impact on restaurant and retail sales. Wide screens, 3-D projection, stadium seating and the latest digital technology attract a crowd that heretofore was served in the Little Rock Area. This is a great addition to our community. Both Conway and Faulkner County have local sales taxes by which out-of-town shoppers contribute to local government revenues. Also, one half of the revenue from a two percent advertising and promotion tax on food and lodging supports our local parks and recreation. Retail sales data is derived from local sales tax collections — 0.5 percent for Faulkner County and 1.75 percent for Conway. The tax is collected by the state and distributed back to the various local agencies. Unfortunately, this process takes about a three-month period. Sales taxes collected by vendors in September are paid to the state in October and not distributed to local governments until December. Therefore, the latest data available is for September 2010 sales. The recession has had some affect on retail sales. The $1.5 billion annual sales figure has not changed much for the past three years. We are fortunate, as retail sales have plummeted in many places. The $1.5 billion figure is understated somewhat in that local sales tax on automobiles is limited to $2,500 of the sale. If the full value of the automobile sales were factored in, the total retail sales would be near $2 billion. There are three months left in the year for sales tax reporting, and a brisk Christmas sea-

T

he strong retail economy for this area is a result of low unemployment rates for Faulkner County (6.7 percent) and Conway (5.7 percent), which are well below the national (9.6 percent) and sate (7.8 percent) rates. son could boost the annual sales figure. Many retailers depend on the Christmas season for a profitable year. Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) is regarded as the highest sales day of the year. This day is a demarcation for a profitable year for many businesses — it is when their profit becomes in the black. There is now Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday) and its Internet sales promotions. Cyber sales are taxable at the local sales tax rate if the company has a facility in Arkansas. Purchases through the internet from Walmart, Target, Dillards, JC Penney and many others are included in the data. Purchases from vendors who are strictly Internet vendors with no presence in Arkansas are not required to collect sales taxes. There has been an effort at the national level to change this. Though the state and local governments receive sales tax revenue from Internet sales, it does nothing for the local economy other than the tax revenue. From what I have read in the news, national sales are up over last year. Same-store sales for 31 retail chains are up about 5.8 percent for November over last year. November automobile sales were strong, with double digit increases for most major brands. The year-to-date sales percentage increase through November over the same period for 2009 for all brands is 16.9 percent. For the five major brands, the percentage is as follows: Ford (24.3 percent), American Honda (21.1 percent) Chrysler (16.7 percent), General Motors (12.2 percent) and Toyota USA (-3.3 percent). The percentage increase for all this bodes well for the local and national economy. The strong retail economy for the area is a result of low unemployment rates for Faulkner County (6.7 percent) and Conway (5.7 percent), which are well below the national (9.6 percent) and state (7.8 percent) rates. More information on restaurant sales including individual restaurants can be found at Pulse of Conway: www.pulseofconway.com. FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 3


2010: Growth that stood out

n column

Time flies when you’re having fun

I

t’s hard to believe that 2010 is all but over. I’m excited for 2011. Living and working in Conway will do that to you. There is always another exciting project around the corner. However, we haven’t taken our foot off the pedal for the holidays. This issue of the Faulkner County Business Journal has some great info about this special time of year. There is no more appropriate time to talk about retail’s impact on our economy. Roger Lewis’s Pulse article takes an in-depth look at what is now a $1.5 BILLION industry. We also visit with some local retailers who have some pretty encouraging news to share. We’ve got an interview with local tech entrepreneur Cotton Rohrschieb about emerging technology trends for small business. With Conway recently being ranked as the “6th Geekiest City in the US” I’m sure many of you will put some of Cotton’s insight to use. We’ll also use our editorial space to look back on 2010 with a very grateful heart. I’m not sure Conway has ever seen a year with so many high profile, big budget construction projects. Conway is a true refuge in this recession. Last, but certainly not least, our cover story is about the new 12 screen Cinemark Theatre that is the most high profile project in an $8 million revitalization of the Conway Towne Centre. What a fun way to start the holiday season. From all of us at the Chamber, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! BRAD LACY President and CEO Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

Conway has almost certainly felt a tempered impact of our nation’s difficult economic times. However, 2010 in Conway was a year of historic construction projects and foundation building policy. Before we rush on to 2011 we think it’s necessary to gratefully reflect on 2010 and just a few of the good things that happened for our community. Kimberly-Clark Expansion 2010 was the 40th anniversary of KC’s Conway operation. They marked it with a $60+ million expansion and more than 100 new jobs. Conway2025 The yearlong planning process was a success. More than 1,400 Conway area residents participated in the process. Good things are in store. Expo Center The new Expo Center and

fairgrounds have already hosted a number of successful events. The Faulkner County Fair, Business Expo and Dazzle Daze helped introduce this much-needed asset to thousands of welcome visitors. Millage Passing Conway is an education town. It makes sense that the Conway2012 millage issue passed overwhelmingly. It sets the table for not only adequate, but excellent, facilities for a generation of K-12 students. RockTenn Expansion In February, RockTenn announced that it would invest $4 million in its Conway facility. The investment increased the facility’s capacity by more than 20 percent. Hendrix Village and Roundabout They said it would work, and it works. The improvements to Harkrider between Siebenmorgen and Fleming move cars better than ever. They also give a great view of

the continuously developing Hendrix Village. HP facility opens We hope that the adage of “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t apply to the $36 million HP facility in the Meadows Technology Park. It is an attractive, modern, sustainable home to more than 1,000 new HP employees. Blue Cross Blue Shield Data Center HP’s newest neighbor is a $12 million, 17,000-squarefoot data center for Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield. The center will be home to 20 employees and a payroll of approximately one million dollars. Southwestern Energy Regional Headquarters A $30 million facility that represents the heart of the Fayetteville Shale’s economic impact will also be home to several hundred natural gas industry professionals. The LEED certified building is a model of sustainability.

UCA Business Building “Under Construction Always.” The latest major project on UCA’s campus was an 80,000-square-foot home to their College of Business. In February, the new building that will definitely become a Donaghey Avenue landmark was dedicated. Hendrix Student Life and Technology Center From the outside, it looks like it has always been there. On the inside is technology you didn’t know they had invented yet. To say Hendrix College does things first class is an understatement. This $26 million LEED Gold Certified building may be their most impressive project to date. Renovation of the Conway Towne Centre To be honest, the Conway Towne Centre needed some “freshening up.” It got $8 million worth of reinvestment this year. It is a retail destination once again.

retailers encouraged by early holiday sales The true impact of holiday spending in Conway won’t be known until well after the first of the year, but a number of local retailers are pleased with the opening weeks of this crucial month. “Customers are out shopping and buying. We are doing well,” said Brian Porterfield of Haynes ACE Hardware. Porterfield said customers are more informed than in past years. “Customers are being smart. They are shopping for not only the best price, but the best quality or value over time.” Sherry Smith reported a record-setting Black Friday for Fletcher Smith Jewelers. “Downtown was packed all day. People were in and out of stores all day — with sacks. That’s a good sign.” National reports estimate 2010 holiday spending to increase 3-4% over 2009. Retail sales nationally are viewed as

4 | FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

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owntown was packed all day. People were in and out of stores all day — with sacks. That’s a good sign. more of an economic indicator than an economic stimulus on their own. However, when locally-owned businesses thrive during the holidays, that money will circulate many times over within the local economy. Holiday spending can represent 20 percent of a retailer’s annual revenue. Marty Lefler of Lefler’s Fashions says his store has tried to focus on spreading revenue throughout the year. “In the past, Thanksgiving through Christmas was a huge part of what we

did. We’ve tried to emphasize year-round business. We’ve had a nice increase over last year. Downtown is more relevant (as a shopping destination) than ever.” Investments in infrastructure downtown, advertising Conway as a shopping destination regionally and the addition of new employers are all contributing factors to growing sales figures. Lefler isn’t the only merchant who thinks Conway stores owe some of their success to community improvements. Smith said that their recent success may be, in part, due to years of community development throughout Conway. “We’ve been in business since 1919. This is the best year we’ve ever had. I think it’s a credit to all of the activities you’ve seen from the city, the Downtown Partnership and the Chamber for the last 10 or 15 years. “It’s created a real snowball effect.”


Tenants Hibbett’s, Office Depot, Bath and Body Works and others are reaping the benefits from the new investments at the Conway Towne Centre.

Conway Towne Centre receives new look, investment When the Conway Towne Centre at the intersection of Highway 65 and Interstate 40 opened in 1986, it was one of Central Arkansas’ first shopping centers located outside of Little Rock/North Little Rock. The 180,000-squarefoot center was built with a Walmart Supercenter as the anchor tenant. It instantly became a destination for Arkansans north of Conway on Highway 65 and west of Con-

way on Interstate 40. Since then, a number of significant shopping centers have sprung up throughout Conway and central Arkansas. Competition, changing tenants and the natural life cycle of a large shopping center all contributed toward a decline in the Towne Centre’s status in recent years. A local development company thinks that all that is about to change. Flake and Kelley Commercial purchased the Towne Centre in early 2009. Since then the center has seen more than $8 million in new invest-

ment. The main building has a new façade. The parking lot now has an improved flow, new lighting and landscaped islands. Daryl Peeples, a broker for Flake and Kelley, said the property is an attractive location once again. “The property is well located with large traffic volume on Highway 65. Interest in the center has increased with the construction of the new theatre.” Cinemark Theatres opened a new, state-of-the-art, 12screen theatre the second week of December. They

join existing tenants such as JC Penney, Hibbett’s, Office Depot, Bath and Body Works and others. There are also a number of new tenants coming to the Centre. Wimpy’s Burgers will take the former Hardee’s location. Emerge and Hut No. 8 are two new clothing stores that have recently signed leases. These new tenants not only bring new customers to the site, Peeples said they bring new investment. “All of the new tenants are remodeling and updating the spaces when

they come into the center. Hibbett’s (an existing tenant) doubled their size this year and made significant improvements to their space. Peeples says Conway Towne Centre is currently 80% leased. There is approximately 40,000 square feet available, including 15,000 square feet of prime retail space next to the new theatre. Most available spaces are in the 2,0004,000-square-foot-range. Anyone interested in leasing information should contact Flake and Kelley Commercial at (501) 375-3200.

FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 5


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TOP 5 RESIDENTIAL home sales in faulkner county NOVEMBER 2010

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FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 7


Mayor Tab Townsell, Stephen Fagan- Cinemark, Sam Alley- VCC Construction, James Meredith-Cinemark and Brad Lacy- Conway Chamber open the new theatre with an official “ticket tearing.”

cinemark now offers premiere venue in conway

In 1986, Conway residents welcomed Cinemark Theatres to the new Conway Towne Center at Interstate 40 and Highway 65. The city had fewer than 25,000 residents. Since that time, the city has added some 35 thousand residents and developed an appetite for a state of the art movie theatre experience. The wait for a new theatre officially ended Friday December 10th when Cinemark opened the doors to a new 12 screen theatre in their original Towne Centre location. The new Cinemark Towne Centre features stadium seating, all digital projection, 3D capabilities in six auditoriums and an XD: Extreme Digital Cinema auditorium with wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling screens. The XD auditorium will offer a complete entertainment environment featuring a larger screen, plush seating and a custom JBL sound 8 | FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

system. The XD auditorium will exhibit the newest movies every week, including 2D and Real-3D pictures. All 12 auditoriums offer stadium style seating for unobstructed views. The theatre also offers online and kiosk ticketing, a birthday party room, a game area and concession areas. Conway Mayor Tab Townsell thinks that the latest generation technology in the theatre has made the project worth the wait. “We have been waiting years for a truly state of the art movie theatre. With three colleges and one of the state’s youngest populations, this theatre becomes an instant entertainment destination. People in and around Conway no longer have to trade a quality viewing experience for convenience.” Currently, many Conway area residents drive to Little Rock for big name openings or for movies that feature 3D viewing or high end visual effect. James Merideth, Vice President of Marketing for Cinemark USA, Inc.

said that the Conway Towne Centre Theatre’s additional screens and new features will accommodate newest film technologies and the crowds that come along with it. “The new theatre offers six 3D-capable auditoriums, so we’ll be able to bring our customers a variety of film titles and provide them with a choice in how they see Hollywood’s latest cutting edge films.” Theatre staff won’t have to wait long to give the new bells and whistles a workout. This holiday season has a number of 3D offerings. “Tron: Legacy 3D,” “Gulliver’s Travels 3D” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D” are all scheduled for release in late 2010. Prior to the opening of the Cinemark Theatre, moviegoers would have needed to travel to Little Rock to enjoy the full viewing experience for these features. The theatre is most high profile project in the renovation of the 180,000 sq. ft. Conway Towne Centre. The Towne

Centre was purchased in early 2009 by Little Rock Real Estate firm, Flake and Kelley Commercial. The new theatre has already established itself as an anchor tenant capable of drawing new investment and neighbors. No less than four new tenants have signed leases for the shopping center since the theatre renovation was announced. The combination of consumer demand, facility reinvestment and the high visibility location make the Cinemark opening a very high profile affair. Brad Lacy, president and CEO of the Conway Area Chamber, says all of these factors add up to the theatre becoming an instant success. “For the last several years, I’ve been asked a hundred or more times about the prospects of a new theatre. Our population, location and demographics are going to quickly make this theatre a true economic asset to the Conway Towne Centre, the city and region.”


‘Living Machine’ opens up acres for responsible development

During the planning process for the Village at Hendrix it became obvious that something would have to be done about Hendrix Creek. According to consultants, the creek was in ecological “disrepair.” This was primarily due to drainage from upstream development that was depositing silt and debris at an alarming rate. The creek’s location also prevented future phases of the Village from being developed. The creek was the heart of

a 500 acre watershed that played a crucial role in storm water management. There were two possible solutions. The first option was a traditional, large scale civil engineering solution. Culverts, detention ponds, concrete, etc. The second option was to relocate Hendrix Creek, rebuild it with natural materials and in the process create a fully functioning ecosystem that students and the community can study and enjoy. Hendrix College chose the second option. The end result is a solution to a drainage and land use problem

that will become a destination itself. Lawrence Finn is COO of the Village at Hendrix. He said that the Village Watershed project has goals on two fronts. First, accommodate the area’s storm water needs. Second, revitalize an ecosystem in a way that it becomes an asset for students and area residents. “From an ecological standpoint, it is a living machine. The machine handles the storm event. Our “infrastructure”, everything we’ve built, is natural. This was all done with natural resources.”

Finn said that upon completion this spring, the creek and watershed would be able to immediately accommodate drainage needs for the 500 acre watershed. In 3 to 5 years, Finn expects the creek to be an established ecosystem. It will be 5 to 10 years before the ecosystem is mature and fully functioning independently. “This project will accommodate the serious drainage needs. But when it’s not addressing a storm event, it will be a beautiful destination. A place to study and observe.” The finished product will

include a half mile walking path that is open to the public, outdoor classrooms and educational signage throughout the watershed. Finn says the project will result in an improved array of flora and fauna not currently in the area. Native plants, including 500 trees, are being installed. The new habitat will encourage wildlife to make the watershed their home. Finn says that the project is one to be proud of and that its success is the result of a “talented group of brilliant practitioners.”

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Cotton Rohrscheib is the co-founder of Pleth, an interactive agency.

Conway 2.0 – Cotton Rohrscheib

Cotton Rohrscheib is the co-founder of Pleth, (Pleth.com) an interactive agency with offices in Batesville and Conway. He is also a founding member of Conway Cowork. (ConwayCowork.com) He has worked with a number of small businesses on web development, managed hosting and email services. What is Pleth?

Pleth is an interactive agency co-founded by myself and Greg and Stephen Smart of Batesville. We offer web design, application development, graphic design & print, social media consulting and business class e-mail outsourcing solutions. We have offices in Batesville, Jonesboro and Conway.

How many employees do you have?

We presently have eight people on our team; two of them are part time.

How long have you been in business?

I have personally been involved in this industry for more than a decade. We didn’t form Pleth until 2004.

What technology trends are you seeing in small- to medium-sized business?

First, it’s hard to ignore that social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter, have completely changed how businesses interact with their customers. That trend will continue to evolve as more businesses and 10 | FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

consumers adopt social media. You would be surprised how much time the average web user spends inside Facebook as opposed to surfing the rest of the web. The important lesson to take from this trend is that not only does a business need a web presence, they need a social media presence and a strategy for management and interaction. Geo-Social is another aspect of social media that is really catching on. Geo-Social check-ins take place on several social networks and in a nutshell they allow users to check in at venues, businesses or any physical location on their wireless devices to share their locations with friends in their network. This offers huge potential for businesses moving forward. I feel it is something that should be on all of our radar screens right now. Finally, another big trend that I am seeing from an insider standpoint is how interaction with the cloud has grown. In the old days web content existed on corporate servers or co-located server farms. But when virtualization of server resources became a buzzword, we started seeing content providers move toward the cloud to store and deliver their content in a more cost-effective manner. I have seen everything stored in the cloud from e-mail and business-critical data to digital content like e-books, movies, etc.

What is “the cloud?”

I like to explain the cloud as internet-based computing. Instead of having a single server with limited resources for storage, the cloud presents an endless amount of scalable storage and resources on demand through virtualization. Cloud usage is typically

metered by usage so it can cut IT costs for businesses dramatically. Business-critical data storage and e-mail hosting are two examples of applications that we see a lot of businesses transitioning to these days to cut IT overhead and increase resources. I think the days of having an in-house server are probably limited.

Jumping back to social media. How can a small business use Geo-Social applications?

There are tons of ways that businesses can interact with Geo-Social. I have seen Fortune 500 companies leverage services like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places to run some incredible promotions. I’ve personally won items for “checking in” to businesses in Central Arkansas. I’ve seen a hot dog vendor in central Arkansas build a network of followers and alert them daily on his location. In my opinion, location-based services present the most opportunity for small businesses to promote their business and build a community around their products and services. My advice to every small business is when they are putting together their strategy for social media that they spend a lot of time investigating the Geo-Social aspect as well. One other thing that is important to emphasize is that as social media usage continues to grow, having a presence alone is nothing without interaction. It’s for this reason that my company, along with several others in central Arkansas, provides social media consultation and coaching more or less to get businesses up to speed with the proper ways of interacting socially.


WHAT’S THAT GONNA BE?

Shake’s Frozen Custard / Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches / Available office space

S

hake’s Frozen Custard is relocating from their Harkrider location. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches is opening their first location in Conway. There is approximately 1,700 sq. ft. of available space in the back of the building. If you are interested in leasing call Covington Properties at (501) 329-3357 n Where is that? 317 Oak Street

n Who’s building it?

Covington Properties owns the building and Covington Construction is remodeling the building.

n When will it be completed? January 2011.

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2010-12 Faulkner County Business Journal