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Whether you know it or not, we all have a stake in the

success of Conway Regional


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Centennial Valley Golf Club Gatlin Park

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ance and maintenance Lake costs may all go up. As Carol-dan citizens, our expectations for services and amenities may stay the same. But the money available to the city stays flat or goes down. It’s a bad situation on a number of fronts. Another driver for a sluggish local economy is the nationwide uncertainty surrounding the housing market. Thankfully, Conway was just featured in the Wall Street Journal as one of the safest housing markets in 286 the country. Sadly, in 2011, it doesn’t take much to top that list. New construction is way down. Home builders, realtors and everyone else with a hand in housing are perhaps feeling the pinch more than anyone. The availability of financing, scarcity of land, cost of infrastructure, skittish buyers have all been blamed. We don’t know. Regardless, there’s not much we can do about any of those issues in the short term anyway. Here’s what we do know. The fundamentals of Faulkner County’s economy are strong. We’ve got a very competitive workforce. We’ve got capable community leadership. We’ve got a wonderful educational experience to offer folks pre-k through retirement. Finally, we’re going to come out of this better than most. Pay attention to the difficult decisions confronting our community leadership. Take every opportunity to shop locally. And keep counting your pennies (and your blessings).

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Recession ‘Resistant’

o one in the United States, or possibly even the developed world, is recession proof. The “late unpleasantness” of the global economy has lasted longer than almost anyone expected. Conway has fared better than almost anywhere during this period, but you only have to look at the national and global brands doing business here to understand our exposure to macro financial trends. What does that mean at the local level? For some it has meant lost jobs or missed paychecks. For almost everyone it has meant at least financial belt tightening at work and at home. Thankfully, Conway is not realizing the impact through net job losses. To the contrary, the addition of Hewlett-Packard, expansion of Kimberly-Clark, growth of Southwestern Energy and a number of small business success stories all add up to job gains for Faulkner County. In 2010, Faulkner County saw a net increase of 1,528 jobs. People here are working. But they are, wisely in our opinion, spending less. When the spending slows down one of the most visible impacts is on local government. For the most part, the fiscal health of our city and county relies on a high volume of relatively small transactions with our local businesses. Sales tax collections in Conway are essentially flat for 2011. This means less money for city services. Fuel, insur-

TOP 5 RESIDENTIAL home sales in faulkner county JUNE 1-28

University Of Central Arkansas

286

SALE PRICE ADDRESS

BED/BATH SUB

Dave Ward Dr

SQ. FT. $$/SQ. FT. YEAR BUILT CITY

$453,000

3130 Cresthaven 5/3.5

Cresthaven

4,186

$109.65

2006

Conway

$351,000

5205 Bay Town

4/3.5

Centennial Valley 3,130

$121.37

2005

Conway

$339,500

2720 Collins

3/2.5

Cresthaven

2,815

$120.60

2007

Conway

$291,000

1210 Sea Breeze 4/3

Sunderlin Park

2,876

$104.28

2002

Conway

$269,900

4800 Stockton

Nottingham

2,718

$101.18

2004

Conway

4/3

Tupelo Bayou Site One Reservoir

3130 CRESTHAVEN 2720 COLLINS

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Visiting Real Estate Developers Provide Insight, Assessment of conway’s future

In April, a group of Conway community leaders, elected officials and members of the business community traveled to Franklin, Tenn., to benchmark the development practices that helped establish Franklin as one of the country’s hottest markets for job growth.

This June, the Chamber hosted developers who played a critical role in the Franklin story came to Conway and measured development potential, pointed out challenges

and gave direction. “After spending a day in Conway, I was impressed by both the city at present and the amazing growth potential it has for the future,” said Pat Emery, president of Spectrum Properties. Spectrum Properties/Emery have been involved in every stage of the development of more than 1.5 million square feet of speculative Class A suburban office space in Cool Springs/Franklin, Tenn. The Cool Springs development is home to dozens of North American corporate headquarters, including Nissan and Community Health

Systems. Chamber President Brad Lacy said the opportunity to import outside expertise and get an honest appraisal of Conway development potential is priceless. “We were able to pick the brains of professionals who have already done what we aspire to do. These guys are at the top of their industry. They know what high-end employers expect of a potential site. Their knowledge is invaluable.” Some of their recommendations were: establishing strict development standards for the new interstate interchanges;

creating specific, “nodal” plans for critical parts of town; and improving the overall development standard for all activities visible from the interstate. Emery said the planning measures will pay off in the long run through increased and higher-value economic activity. “The city is poised to take hold of its destiny by planning, enhancing its gateways, setting high design standards and preparing for the organic growth and relocations that would significantly increase future development opportunities.” Lacy says Emery’s recom-

mendations only complement Conway’s recent success and target markets. “For years we’ve known that we can compete nationally for white-collar, back-office style projects. “Our visit to Franklin and their follow-up visit here give us a look at what our successful future can look like. We’re blessed with so many advantages — our educated workforce, our location. “We have a responsibility to listen, learn and follow through. If we do, like Franklin, it will mean increased property values city wide and higher paying jobs for our people.”

City Parks: A Home Run for Conway’s Economy 2011 has already been a banner year for the Conway Parks and Recreation Department. New facilities have provided a shot in the arm to the local economy as Conway has started to establish itself as a destination for sporting and other events. The department maintains 15 parks, the expo center and fairgrounds and two indoor sports centers. The department also oversees programming for 10 youth and adult programs, including kickball, T-ball, baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball and flag football. In April, Conway hosted the largest youth baseball tournament ever held in Arkansas. Ninety-six teams from Arkansas and neighboring states took part. The Delta Region Volleyball Association’s regional championships also were held in Conway this spring. More than 120 teams from Arkansas, northern Mississippi and a portion of Tennessee visited

In April, Conway hosted the largest youth baseball tournament ever held in Arkansas. Hosting college teams and tournaments at City of Colleges Park helps keep facilities in use more than 8 months a year.

Conway for the games. Close to 200 teams are expected later this month for the HoopPlayUSA.com national basketball tourney. Clint Brock, programs director of the City of Conway Parks and Recreation Department, said these events draw visitors to the area who pump thousands of dollars into the city’s economy. “When people visit Conway

for sports tournaments, they also eat at our restaurants, shop at our retail stores and sleep in our hotels,” said Brock. “We would like to see Conway become the region’s premier destination for youth and adult sports tournaments and establish the city as a leader in parks programming and facilities,” he said. See PARKS, Page 5 FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 3


WHY CONWAY REGIONAL MATTERS Whether you know it or not, we are all have a stake in the success of Conway Regional Health System. Whether delivering newborns, treating cancer, saving heart attack patients or performing life saving operations, Conway Regional touches every Faulkner County resident at the most critical moments of their lives. “As a community based, not-for-profit health system, it is our mission and responsibility to reinvest in health care 4 | FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

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e are all one community, working together. We share one vision for medical excellence. Together we are focused on one commitment, to provide the best care for every patient who enters our doors. —Charles Nabholz services that benefit the community,” said Jim Lambert President and CEO

of Conway Regional Health System. In 2011, reinvestment means taking


on the largest expansion project in terms of cost in Conway Regional history. In June of 2010, the Conway Regional Board of Directors approved moving forward with the expansion of the Women’s Center and the construction of a new Surgery Department at the Conway Regional Medical Center. “This project will address two areas of great importance to our community and our physicians- additional space for obstetrics and expanded surgical suites,” said Lambert. “Surgery has changed dramatically in the 25 years since our current operating room was built. This project gives us the technology, equipment and space to provide excellent healthcare for the next 25 years.” The renovation and expansion project is expected to be completed in April of 2012. It includes 10,000 square feet of renovated space, 85,000 square feet of new construction and more than $5 million in new equipment. There will be eight new obstetrics rooms to help accommodate the almost 2,000 babies delivered annually at Conway Regional. The new surgery facilities will include a new same day surgery area and will offer physicians enhanced flexibility in scheduling and use. Once completed, Conway Regional will have the most technologically advanced operating rooms in Arkansas. Because Conway Regional is a not-forprofit, they have put together a community wide campaign to raise awareness and

funds for continued investment in their health care infrastructure. Conway Regional Chief Development Officer Lori Ross said the relationship between hospital and community member is symbiotic. “As a community hospital, we rely on the support of the people whom we serve. In meeting the demands of today and the expectations of tomorrow, we need help. That’s why we created the ONE Campaign.” The ONE Campaign highlights the connection between Conway Regional and the patients, families and neighbors they serve. The effort is being led by committee chairs Bill and Susan Farris and honorary cochairs Charles and Charlotte Nabholz. The campaign has community representatives from every walk of life. “We are all one community, working together. We share one vision for medical excellence. Together we are focused on one commitment, to provide the best care for every patient who enters our doors,“ said Charles Nabholz. The campaign has been in the quiet stages for a number of months. Bill and Susan Farris are chairs of the campaign steering committee. Farris says that he has already seen strong relationships created by the process. “We have 20 very dedicated volunteers from the community who have come together to devote their time and energy to the ONE Campaign. We are like family. We have a deep commitment to the campaign and tremendous respect for what Conway Regional means to the community.”

WHAT’S THAT GONNA BE?

Buffalo Wild Wings Buffalo Wild Wings specializes in eighteen signature sauces and seasonings with flavor sensations ranging from Sweet BBQ to Blazin. BWW has several signature events each week. Wing Tuesdays offer our great traditional wings at a reduced price and a weekly Tuesday karaoke contest with cash prizes and weekends start on Thursdays at Buffalo Wild Wings where you can order our popular boneless wings for a reduced price. The 7,300 square foot Conway location will seat more than 380. Where is that? On Amity Road just south of the Hilton Garden Inn (behind Conway Commons). When will it be open? Plans are to open in mid-October. PARKS, from Page 3 The two newest parks, City of Colleges Park and Conway Station Park, are booked almost every weekend for tournament play and most weeknights for local use. Brock says competitive baseball and softball associations are now active eight or nine months out of the year. That means an extended economic impact for the two facilities. City of Colleges Park is a five-field, girls’ softball park located on Siebenmorgen Road near Bob Courtway Drive. The park was completed in 2009 and is one of the top softball parks in the region. Conway Station Park is a nine-field, boys’ baseball

park located at the old Young Business Men’s Association (YBMA) fairgrounds on Robins Street. The park has eight fields with a 225-foot fence and one field with a 350-foot fence, a concession stand, temperature-controlled bathrooms, a maintenance shed and a large pond. The mission of Conway Parks and Recreation is to provide recreational opportunities for the citizens of Conway that may improve the health, happiness and wellbeing of everyone located in and around the city. The Department accomplishes its mission through its parks, indoor recreational facilities and sports programs for both youth and adults that are provided in cooperation with area agencies.

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Conway to Use I-40 Expansion to Improve Other Infrastructure WITHIN THE CITY As the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department prepares to expand the Interstate 40 corridor to six lanes from Conway to I-430 in North Little Rock, Conway plans to use this opportunity to make improvements to infrastructure within the city. As the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department prepares to expand the Interstate 40 corridor to six lanes from Conway to I-430 in North Little Rock, Conway plans to use this opportunity to make improvements to infrastructure within the city. “Great cities capitalize on great opportunities,” said Brad Lacy, president and CEO of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the Conway Development Corporation. “Not since the initial construction of Interstate 40 has the city of Conway seen a transportation project of this magnitude. “We need to take this opportunity to create a new gateway for our business community,” Lacy said. During the construction project, bridges will be replaced and a new southern interchange will be constructed at mile marker 132. Frank Riggins, vice president of the landscape architecture department at Crafton Tull, described the preliminary sketch for the bridge enhancements as something that would be

DECIDUOUS TREES SPACED EVENLY W/ WILDFLOWER BANK STABILIZATION

EVERGREEN SCREEN W/ WILDFLOWER BANK STABILIZATION

SOUTH BOUND INTERSTATE 40

DECIDIOUS TREES SPACES EVENLY W/ WILDFLOWER BANK STABILIZATION

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BIKE LANE

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WILDFLOWER BANK STABILIZATION IN MEDIAN

ORNAMENTAL FLOWERING TREES AND FLOWERING SHRUB MASSES IN MEDIAN

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DECIDUOUS TREES SPACED EVENLY W/ WILDFLOWER BANK STABILIZATION

NORTH BOUND INTERSTATE 40

EVERGREEN SCREEN W/ WILDFLOWER BANK STABILIZATION

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DECIDIOUS TREES SPACES EVENLY W/ WILDFLOWER BANK STABILIZATION

DECORATIVE POLE LIGHTS W/ BANNER ARMS OF NEAREST COLLEGE

PAINTED BRIDGE STRUCTURE (SCHOOL COLOR OF NEAREST COLLEGE)

ORNAMENTAL IRON (TYP.)

STONE VENEER

SLOPED SHRUB AND TREE PLANTING

SOUTH BOUND INTERSTATE 40

NORTH BOUND INTERSTATE 40

TERRACED PLANTERS W/ SHRUB AND TREE PLANTING

Crafton Tull Engineers are helping the Chamber develop a new standard for Conway’s interstate overpasses and landscaping.

unique to Conway. “Our plans are to enhance the bridges along I-40 in Conway to make them aesthetically pleasing and distinctive,” Riggins said. “In our preliminary sketch, stone veneer

columns will support the bridges, and special lighting, landscaping and ornamental iron enhancements will make Conway stand out to passersby on the interstate.” According to the Arkansas

State Highway and Transportation Department, the average daily traffic volume through the Interstate 40 corridor stretching from Conway to North Little Rock is approximately 50,000 vehicles per day.

Lacy said that because I-40 can be considered Conway’s “front door,” it is important that the area reflect the city’s high standards when it comes to residential, commercial and downtown development. “Driving across Interstate 40 from North Carolina to California, a traveler passes through hundreds of towns and cities. Those communities might be nearly indistinguishable outside of the physical geography of the area,” Lacy said. “The Conway Corridor project takes the ‘front door’ to the community and brings it to a new standard that defines our community as unique and identifiable.” Although a major goal of the project is to provide drivers with an attractive view of Conway, Lacy said that the project is not about aesthetics as much as it is about economic development. “An improved interstate corridor will encourage more retail and office development which will generate more sales tax revenue to fund city services and create more jobs for the residents of the region,” he said. The Interstate 40 corridor is currently home to large national chain restaurants, department stores and specialty shops. Major shopping centers include Conway Commons, Conway Towne Center, Faulkner Plaza and Ridge Plaza. The project will take approximately five years to complete.

Transportation, Education Infrastructure a ‘Recipe for Growth’ It has become an article of faith that Conway has always grown and will always grow. If the last sixty years are an adequate sample that may

be true. However, some upcoming major construction projects will bring new attention, and possibly a wave of new residents to Conway.

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Planning is already under way for a $130 million project adding an additional lane to interstate 40 between the 125 exit in Conway and I-430 in Pulaski County. In addition

to making the interstate six lanes, a new interchange will be added at mile marker 132 to provide new access for southern Conway. “The impact for commuters within the

metro is huge” said Brad Lacy, Conway Chamber President. “The last time a project like this took place was when Saline County added a lane to See GROWTH, Page 7


Conway Economy at a Glance Unemployment Rate April 2011 US ....................................9.0% Arkansas............................7.7% Faulkner County .............. 6.8% Conway..............................5.8% Labor Force April 2011 Conway Employed........................26,822 Unemployed.....................1,671 Total................................28,493 Faulkner County* Employed........................53,850 Unemployed.....................3,950 Total................................57,800 *Includes Conway Sales Tax Collections Conway- YTD March 2011........................$3,144,947 2010........................$3,304,291 Percent Change -4.8% Conway-Annual* 2010......................$21,868,102 2009......................$20,825,010 Percent Change 5.0% *Tax Rate 1.75 Faulkner County –YTD March 2011........................$1,168,543 2010........................$1,159,090 Percent Change 0.8% Faulkner-Annual* 2010........................$7,834,226 2009........................$7,731,691 Percent Change 1.3% *Tax Rate 0.5% Restaurant Sales* Conway – YTD April 2011......................$48,577,923 2010......................$45,056,184 Percent Change 7.8% Annual Sales 2010....................$139,864,203 2009 ...................$130,911,970 Percent Change 6.8% *Includes mixed drink sales Hotel Sales Conway - YTD April 2011........................$5,691,484 2010 ...................... $5,705,206 Percent Change -0.2% Annual Sales 2010......................$17,590,242 2009..................... $16,404,114 Percent Change 7.2% Building Permits Single Family Residents YTD - April 2011 ........................ 61 permits 2010 ..................... 123 permits Percent Change -50.4% Total for the Year 2010 ..................... 223 Permits 2009 ..................... 259 Permits Percent Change -13.9%

Average Construction Cost* YTD - May 2011.......................... $215,389 2010...........................$162,068 Percent Change 32.9% *Not including land or lot improvements Average Square Footage YTD - May* 2011 ..........................2,948 2010 ..........................2,767 Percent Change: 6.6 Percent Change 21.4% *Total under Roof Lottery Sales Faulkner County May..........................$1,540,095 Annual*..................$16,404,546 Annual Per Capita .......$144.87 Total State May . .....................$43,660,063 Annual*................$420,422,088 Annual Per Capita........$147.25 *June 1, 2010 – May 31, 2011 Natural Gas Severance Tax Distribution June 2011 Faulkner County...........$16,127 Conway.........................$20,064 2010 Faulkner County.........$171,543 Conway.......................$221,255 Wellhead Price per MCF* February 2011 ................................$4.12 2010 ................................$4.04 2009.................................$3.45 2008.................................$8.84 Yearly Average 2010 ......................... $4.16 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..................266 Total in Field . ..................3,439 *As of Feb. 17, 2011 Estimated Life Time Value of Production* Total Field.........$8,553,336,233 *As of February 10, 2011

Information provided by pulseofconway.com

Education Pays a Premium

BY ROGER LEWIS

The article in the June issue of the Faulkner County Business Journal titled “Conway and Faulkner County Residents are Younger, Smarter and Wealthier” discussed the income and education level of Faulkner County residents. It stated that of the population 25 years and older, 41% of Conway’s residents hold a college degree, associate, bachelor’s or professional degree, compared to 24% for Arkansas and 35% for the United States. The American Community Survey conducted by the census bureau provides data on earnings (wages) of full-time year-round workers by education level. Conway residents with a bachelor’s degree earn more than twice as much as those with only a high school diploma - $46,259 compared to $22,506, a 2.1 to 1 ratio. Over a lifetime of 30 years of working, in today’s dollars, they will earn approximately $1.4 million - about $700,000 more than those with only a high school diploma. The disparity over those with less than a high school diploma is much greater - $46,259 compared to $16,452, a 2.8 to 1 ratio. A lifetime earnings of those with less than a high school diploma

approximately is $500,000 or nearly one million dollars less than those with a bachelor’s degree. It is not a shocking revelation that the higher the education level of a population, the more they earn. Residents with a graduate or professional degree, masters, doctorate, etc., earn considerably more than those with lower degrees; however they do not compare as well statewide or nationally. This group has an average wage of $51,250 for Conway, $51,750 for Faulkner County, $51,585 for Arkansas and $62,708 nationally. I infer that this is because of our institutions of higher education. Colleges employee a lot of people with advanced degrees whose wages may be lower than other professions, such as physicians and lawyers. Obviously education pays, but a four-year college degree may not be for everyone. A two-year associate degree or certification in a specific skill is a good alternative for many. Conway residents with some college or a two-year degree have average earnings of $32,353 and that is approximately $10,000 a year above those with a high school diploma of $22,506. Another way to state this 1.4 to 1 ratio is that an associate degree pays a 40% premium over a high school diploma. For a bachelor’s degree it is a 100% premium.

GROWTH, from Page 6 Interstate 30.” The impact on Saline County’s growth was significant. Bryant’s rate of population growth has ballooned in recent years. From 2000-2010, Bryant saw a population increase of almost 70%. A faster commute to and from Little Rock obviously makes Conway an attractive prospect for anyone moving to central Arkansas. However, there is another major construction initiative that Lacy thinks may establish Conway as the preferred address within the MSA. “When voters approved the Conway2012 improvements for our public schools, it sent a big message not only to our residents, but future residents that our school system was ready for excellence long term. Knowing that there are first

The average wage of all of Conway’s full-time workers is $47,644 which is above Faulkner County’s average of $46,129 and Arkansas’s average of $41,576 but well below the national average of $54,490. However, those with a bachelor’s degree have average earnings of $46,259 compared to the national average of $47,747. Though the average wages for all Conway’s workers are lower, those with college education compare favorably with the national average. Education is the best means of raising the standard of living of the residents. Averages do not reveal variations in data. The average high temperature for the year for Conway is around 72 degrees, looks like paradise, but as I write this article the temperature is 100 degrees. While Conway’s average wage is low compared to the national average, the percentage of residents in the upper wage levels compare favorably. 32.7% of Conway fulltime workers earn $50,000 or more, compared to 35.5% nationally. For Faulkner County it is 31.8% and 27.6%, for Arkansas. 7.4% of Conway residents earn $100,000 or more, compared to 5.8% for Faulkner County, 4.9% for Arkansas and 9.7% for the US. Further demographic data on Conway and Faulkner County can be found at Pulse of Conway website: www. pulseofconway.com.

class public school facilities waiting on your family makes Conway an easy sell regionally.” The Conway2012 plan includes the construction of a state of the art high school campus as well as an additional elementary school. Lacy says that Conway has shown excellent job growth throughout the last decade. The projects are higher profile and are attracting relocators from around the country. His hope is to first attract new residents through job growth, but continuing to establish Conway as the preferred residential address is equally important. “Realistically, most people moving in from out of state just know that they are moving to central Arkansas. The positive buzz that comes from an easy commute and a thriving school system is really just a recipe for growth.”

n Planning is already under way for a $130 million project adding an additional lane to interstate 40 between the 125 exit in Conway and I-430 in Pulaski County. In addition to making the interstate six lanes, a new interchange will be added at mile marker 132 to provide new access for southern Conway.

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2011-07 Faulkner County Business Journal