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MAY 2014

Bell & Sward fills void in Conway FULL STORY, PAGE 4


2D — Sunday, May 18, 2014

Faulkner County Business Journal

To subscribe call (501) 329-2927 • Log Cabin Democrat

Conway seniors recognized for academic achievement Each year, Academic Signing Day recognizes high school seniors in Conway who have received significant academic awards and substantial scholarships. The event is organized by the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and is presented by Acxiom Corporation. Other sponsors for this year’s program include Central Baptist College, Conway Corporation, Crafton Tull, Crain Buick GMC, Log Cabin Democrat, First Security Bank, Magie-Mabrey Eye Clinic, Regions Bank, Smith Ford and Southwestern Energy Company. The ceremony took place May 15 at Central Baptist College. One by one, the 28 honorees stated where they plan to attend college, signed a placard indicating their choice, and received an award. Shane Broadway, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, delivered the keynote address. Graduating seniors from Conway High School-West, St. Joseph High School, Conway Christian High School,

and those home-schooled in the Conway School District were eligible to apply. This year’s honorees maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or higher on a 4.0 scale and have been recognized in one of these five areas: • the recipient of

a top scholarship from the four-year accredited college or university of their choice; • a National Merit Scholar or National Merit Finalist designation; • acceptance into a U.S. Service Academy; • the winner of a state or national scholar-

ship program; and • the recipient of a Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship or Governor’s Scholarship. The 2014 honorees, along with their college or university of choice, are as follows: Bridgette Brown, Vanderbilt University;

Mallory Bryant, Harding University; William Bryden Jr., Johns Hopkins University; Marianne Burnett, University of Arkansas; Kaleb Crow, University of Arkansas; Shelby Daniel, University of Central Arkansas; Caleb Dather, University of Arkansas

at Little Rock. Emily Fahr, University of Alabama; August Glover, University of Arkansas; Devin Henderson, Hendrix College; Abby Kordsmeier, University of Arkansas; Abigail Nipper, Arkansas State University; Mariah Oates, University of Arkansas; Zachary Orvin, University of Central Arkansas. Rebecca Philpott, Lyon College; Isaac Powers, United States Air Force Academy; Drake Rea, University of Central Arkansas; Collie Shaw, University of Arkansas; Madison Shaw, University of Arkansas; Shelby Shelton, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Jackson Smith, University of Arkansas. Sydney Spradlin, University of Arkansas; Morgan Sweere, University of Central Arkansas; Avery Taylor, University of Central Arkansas; Olivia Tzeng, University of Arkansas Honors College; Jackson Vanderslice, Rochester Institute of Technology; Alex Velte, Arkansas Tech University; and Kyle Ward, University of Arkansas.

Village at Hendrix commercial tenants in panel discussion Representatives from some of The Village at Hendrix’s commercial tenants will be the featured guests at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s upcoming CEO Luncheon. The event, presented by Nab-

holz Corporation and sponsored by Delta Trust & Bank, will take place Tuesday, June 10, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Central Baptist College. Panelists will include Philip Tappan from The Purple Cow Restaurant,

French Hill from Delta Trust & Bank, Umang Patel from Conway Management Inc. and How Do You Roll?, and Ward Davis from The Village at Hendrix. THV11’s Melissa Dunbar Gates will moderate the discussion.

The Village at Hendrix includes mixed-use buildings that house students and commercial businesses. Its most recent addition was Market Square South, a 30,000-squarefoot development that

similarly includes commercial tenants on the first floor and student residences on the upper two floors. CEO Luncheons are open to all employees of Chamber-member businesses. Individual tickets

are $25 per person. Reserved tables of eight are available for $200. For reservations, call 501-327-7788 or email Whitney@ConwayArkansas.org. The reservation deadline is Monday, June 2.


Log Cabin Democrat • Find our online edition at www.thecabin.net

Sunday, May 18, 2014 — 3D

Faulkner County Business Journal

Recovery center opens in Conway Put your money EDITORIAL

The U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Arkansas Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and the Conway Chamber of Commerce recently announced the opening of a Business Recovery Center (BRC) in Conway. The center is specifically designed to provide key financial services to businesses impacted by the April 27 tornado. “Due to the severe property damage and economic loss this tornado inflicted on businesses in Mayflower and Vilonia and surrounding communities, we want to provide every available service to help get businesses back on their feet,” said SBA’s Arkansas District Director Linda Nelson. “This center is a single one-stop location for business owners to access a variety of specialized help,” she added. The Business Recovery Center is located on the third floor of the Faulkner County Justice Building at 510 South German Lane. The BRC will be open Monday thru Friday 9am-5pm until further notice. According to Nelson, SBA customer service representatives are available to meet individually with business owners to explain how a low-interest SBA disaster loan can help finance their recovery. “They will answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain

‘Due to the severe property damage and economic loss this tornado inflicted ... we want to provide every available service to help businesses back on their feet.’ — Linda Nelson,

SBA’s Arkansas District Director the application process, help each individual complete their application and close their approved loans,” she said. “You don’t need to wait on your insurance to settle or a contractor’s estimate before seeking SBA financial assistance,” Nelson added. Brad Lacy, President of the Conway Chamber of Commerce said, “Early last week, we reached out to our colleagues at the Joplin Chamber of Commerce for advice on what role we could best play in the recovery effort. Their experience with an SBA Business Recovery Center proved invaluable as they began rebuilding their community. We immediately reached out to the SBA and are very pleased that the SBA has responded so swiftly to help meet the needs of our business community, and in particular small businesses, by working with our chamber and the SBTDC to set up this Business Recovery Center. In addition, our staff will be available to

help businesses find additional resources that may be available to help in their recovery.” According to SBTDC Director Janet Roderick, consultants will offer free consulting to help business owners affected by the tornado reestablish their operations and plan for their future. “Our counselors will also offer help in reconstructing lost business records and offer assistance on updating or rewriting business plans,” she continued. “The combination of financial assistance from the SBA and free, personalized counseling from the professionals at the SBTDC can be a powerful step in getting our business community back to normal,” added Roderick. Businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations may apply to SBA for low-interest disaster loans of up to $2 million to repair or replace damage to real estate, leasehold improvements, machinery and equipment, in-

ventory and other business assets. These loans cover uninsured losses or situations where the insurance coverage falls short of repair or replacement costs. For small businesses and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage. The SBA also makes low-interest federal disaster loans to homeowners and renters who sustained damage from the disaster. Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at https:// disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance programs, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster. The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is June 30, 2014. The deadline to return economic injury applications is January 29, 2015.

where your mouth is This year, like every campaign year before, we will hear promises to “create jobs.” Truth be told, there aren’t many things our elected officials can do to create jobs. The best contributions our state government can make, generally, are sound budgeting and investments toward a healthy and prepared workforce. However, there are a handful of policies that reside solely in state government and have a direct impact on Arkansas’s ability to compete for quality jobs. Arkansas’s suite of targeted economic development incentives are funded by the Arkansas legislature and carried out by the administration. These incentives are essential to attracting quality jobs to Arkansas. In 2007, the legislature created the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund. They put in $50 million. That $50 million was to last two years—essentially $25 million per year. In 2009, the fund was replenished to $50 million. But in 2011, the legislature only replenished the fund to a $15 million dollar balance and $16 million in 2013. Arkansas has gone from $25 million per year down to $7-8M per year. Most recently, during the 2014 fiscal session, the governor’s budget requested an additional $5 million and received nothing. Now, Arkansas is left with a fund balance of

less than $7 million. That is supposed to last until July of 2015. The Quick Action Closing Fund has helped attract several thousand quality jobs to every corner of the state. It has been an unqualified success. The projects are subject to strict performance standards and a thorough cost-benefit analysis is done on the front-end. When projects fail to perform, funds are recovered. It works. Incentives are only a part of successful economic development. But it is foolish to think that the targeted funding the closing fund offers is anything but essential to deal-making. Consultants, local industry and growing businesses around the world need to know that Arkansas has the capacity to compete when the deal is right. That’s why the Arkansas Economic Developers, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, and the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce Executives have joined together to challenge every legislative and gubernatorial candidate to commit to full funding of the of the Quick Action Fund annually. To replenish the fund to $25 million each year. This year, when you hear a candidate promise to create jobs ask them where they stand on funding the Quick Action Closing Fund. There’s only one right answer.


4D — Sunday, May 18, 2014

Faulkner County Business Journal

To subscribe call (501) 329-2927 • Log Cabin Democrat

COVER STORY

Bell & Sward fills void in Conway

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Long-awaited men’s clothing store opened in April

he idea for Bell & Sward Gentlemen’s Clothier began with a white dress shirt. “I was getting ready for a wedding, and I wanted to wear a nice, white shirt,” said co-owner Erik Sward. “And I didn’t know where to find one in Conway.” Sward and his wife, Lindsey, had moved to Conway after living in Little Rock while she completed her residency. “I’d grown accustomed to the finer men’s stores there, such as Greenhaw’s, Baumans, Mr. Wicks and Dillard’s. The growing community and strong business environment in Conway was ripe for a men’s store.” Sward and his motherin-law, co-owner Zanette Bell, had always bounced ideas for “crazy business ventures” off each other. “This one actually stuck,” he said. Bell and Sward met with Conway Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Brad Lacy to get his opinion on how viable the business would be. “We talked to Brad to get the pulse on the community and its economic growth. I’m not sure there’s a better person in Conway to tell you what business is going to make it in Conway than Brad Lacy.” The owners ultimately chose downtown Conway to set up shop. “I think

it’s really the best place for us to thrive,” Sward said. “Downtown Conway is vibrant, and it advertises itself. It’s a destination, and we’ve benefited from the foot traffic.” Bell added that she loves the historic buildings downtown, and complementing the store’s design with the building’s architecture was the fun part. She recalled the renovation and decorating process they undertook to give the store a rugged, masculine feel. “A layer of stucco covered the antique brick, so we had that removed and

chipped off the remaining plaster. Two ceilings covered the original beadboard ceiling. When we removed those, we uncovered an old skylight alcove. The workers also uncovered an old train door in the back storeroom that we mounted on the wall. The back of it reads, ‘no vagrants.’” Antler mounts and hunting-inspired pictures adorn the walls. Solid-wood fixtures furnish the interior, including a hall tree from Ed Camp’s Men’s Store. Conway resident Lori Quinn owned Ed Camp’s, which

was located downtown on Oak Street. A fire destroyed it a decade ago. “Lori has been a huge help,” Bell said. “She has traveled with us to clothing markets to look at and purchase various brands.” Bell, Sward and their spouses also traveled to cities across the South to survey men’s clothing stores. “We researched men’s stores located in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas,” Sward said. “We visited cities that are similar to Conway’s size and scale and quickly noticed

that college towns tend to have strong men’s stores.” Their benchmarking trips combined with the visits to the clothing markets led Bell and Sward to a number of brands that appeal to different ages and styles. Bell & Sward Gentlemen’s Clothier carries clothing and accessories from Ballin, Gitman Brothers, Martin Dingman, Bird Dog Bay, Peter Millar, Collared Greens, Tommy Bahama, Jack Victor Suits, Johnnie-O and Southern Proper. “We try to emphasize styles that will appeal to

older teenagers all the way up to a mature gentleman,” Bell said. “Our inventory includes everything from sportswear to suits to shoes, leather goods and gift items. We also offer gift certificates.” Customers can expect a personalized shopping experience when they visit Bell & Sward. Sward praised his co-owner’s “eye” for fashion. “She’s phenomenal at matching up combinations of suits, ties and shirts that look wonderful together.” Bell added that she wants the store to be known for its personal service. As a Conway native, she looks forward to reacquainting with old friends and meeting new customers. “It’s important to us to be able to know our customers’ likes and dislikes and take care of them. I love seeing people come in here who I’ve known all my life and being able to visit with them. I also look forward to meeting new customers and their families.” Bell & Sward Gentlemen’s Clothier opened in early April. The store’s hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information, visit BellandSward. com or follow it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


6D — Sunday, May 18, 2014

Faulkner County Business Journal

To subscribe call (501) 329-2927 • Log Cabin Democrat

Delta Trust & Bank to host networking event Delta Trust & Bank will host the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly Business After Hours at its branch in The Village at Hendrix, located at 1055

Steel Avenue, Suite 110. The networking event will take place Thursday, May 22, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Delta Trust & Bank is part of the new 30,000-

square-foot Market Square South development at The Village. The full-service financial institution announced its plans to move into Conway’s New Urbanism

neighborhood in July 2013. Attendees are encouraged to bring business cards, as Business After Hours allows members to network, strengthen pro-

TOP 5 RESIDENTIAL HOME SALES

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Last week the Arkansas Economic Developers, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Association of Chamber Executives passed resolutions asking all legislative and gubernatorial candidates to commit to full funding ($25 million per year) for the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund. Here is what some of them had to say: “Every state in our nation is looking to court new businesses to locate and create jobs in their state, and most of them utilize financial incentives to close those deals. In order to keep Arkansas moving forward we need to be ready for great opportunities when they present themselves and having a fully funded Quick Action Closing Fund is essential. As Chair of the Arkansas Senate Insurance & Commerce Committee, I pledge to do all I can to make sure our business climate continues to improve.” Days Lake

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inconclusive, let’s reconsider if this is a worthy investment of Arkansas taxpayers’ money.”

Curtis Coleman – Republican Candidate for Governor

“As Governor, before I would reauthorize funding I would require (1) stronger protections for the taxpayers in the clawback requirements when an industry does not create the jobs promised; (2) I would require a cost benefit and risk analysis prior to the release of funds; and (3) there should be greater transparency when a company fails to meet its end of the bargain.”

Asa Hutchinson – Republican Candidate for Governor

“Unlike Congressman Hutchinson who called it a ‘slush fund’, Mike Ross has always fully supported the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund, and the results so far have been overwhelming with the announcement of 30,000 new jobs in Arkansas. As governor, Mike will bring Democrats and Republicans together to secure the annual $25 million we need for the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund so that we can continue to compete with surrounding states for more and better-paying jobs in Arkansas.”

“We need an empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of the Quick Action Closing Fund. Let’s take the time Mike Ross – Democratic Candidate to understand the ROI on the use of for Governor (via campaign the Fund thus far. If it’s been effec- spokesman Brad Howard) tive and has given Arkansas taxpay*The responses from gubernatoriers a good solid ROI, let’s continue the al candidates were submitted to Talk fund at it’s authorized $25/million per Business & Politics (TalkBusiness. year funding. If not, or if the data is Net) 365

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ECONOMY AT A GLANCE Unemployment Rate March Seasonally Adjusted US 6.7% Arkansas 7.0% Not Seasonally Adjusted US 6.8% Arkansas 6.9% Faulkner County 6.8% Conway 6.8% Sales Tax Collections Conway* February 2014 $1,713,299 2013 $1,804,699 Percent Change -5.1% Year to Date (February) 2014 $3,330,948 2013 $3,549,963 Percent Change -6.7% Annual 2013 $23,235,891 2012 $22,944,163 Percent Change 1.3% *Tax Rate 1.75% Faulkner County* February 2014 $642,286 2013 $669,691 Percent Change -4.1% Year to Date (February) 2014 $1,242,751 2013 $1,307,470 Percent Change -5.0% Annual 2013 $8,588,835 2012 $8,465,686 Percent Change 1.5% *Tax Rate 0.5% Restaurant Sales* March 2014 $15,100,256 2013 $14,716,863 Percent Change 2.6% Year to Date (March) 2014 $41,498,299 2013 $40,200,900 Percent Change 3.2% Annual Sales 2013 $164,989,586 2012 $161,318,563 Percent Change 2.3% *Including mixed drink sales Hotel Sales March 2014 $1,602,096 2013 $1,601,599 Percent Change 0.0% Year to Date (March) 2014 $4,167,326 2013 $3,829,196 Percent Change 8.8% Annual Sales 2013 $18,556,911 2012 $18,683,676 Percent Change 0.7% Conway Building Permits Single Family Homes Year to Date (March) 2014 23 2013 36 Percent Change -36.1%

Annual 2013 147 Permits 2012 186 Permits 2011 153 Permits Percent Change 2013-2012 -21.0% Average Construction Cost* Annual 2013 $228,275 2012 $207,537 2011 $204,387 Percent Change 2013-2012 10.0% *Not including land or lot improvements Average Square Footage* Annual 2013 3,002 2012 2,910 2011 2,814 Percent Change 2013-2012 3.2% Average Construction Cost Per Square Foot* Annual 2013 $76.04 2012 $71.33 2011 $72.64 Percent Change 8i2013-2012 6.6%% * Total under roof Lottery Sales Faulkner County Year to Date (April) 2014 $5,298,851 2013 $5,927,201 Percent Change -10.6% Annual 2013 $17,038,277 2012 $16,943,909 Percent Change .06% Total State Year to Date (April) 2014 $147,852,799 2013 $159,812,949 Percent Change -7.5% Annual 2013 $432,932,799 2012 $452,245,215 Percent Change -4.3% Natural Gas Severance Tax Distribution Conway Year to Date (April) 2014 $104,893 2013 $84,144 Percent Change 24.7% Annual 2013 $276,523 2012 $162,457 Percent Change 70.2% Faulkner County Year to Date (April) 2014 $85,358 2013 $68,267 Percent Change 25.0% Annual 2013 $224,455 2012 $131,418 Percent Change 70.8%

Information provided by pulseofconway.com

Sunday, May 18, 2014 — 7D

Faulkner County Business Journal

Roundabout economics

By ROGER LEWIS

The joke is that everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it. In Conway everybody complained about the traffic but ... well, in Conway something HAS been done.

The Problem

The problem is increased traffic: delays, accidents and expense. Passenger vehicle registrations increase in Faulkner County an average of 2,500/year. In 2000 the number of registrations was not quite 65,000. In 2013 the number was 97,500, a 50 percent increase. This trend puts us at 130,000 by 2025. Will we build enough roads or additional lanes to handle this increase? Probably not, but there is help for the problem.

A Solution: Roundabouts

The first roundabout in Conway (2004) was at the intersection of Washington, Tyler and Winfield. Often referred to as malfunction junction, two unaligned streets, Tyler and Winfield intersect Washington. The signal system was elaborate, expensive and held up traffic inordinately as it cycled through. Conway’s first roundabout eliminated all signals, was very successful, and sold the public on the concept. The second and third roundabouts were then

built on Harkrider, the major highway through Conway. I was skeptical when these were proposed; I didn’t think they could handle the high volume of traffic. However, they work wonderfully with the high traffic counts. The Arkansas Department of Transportation and Highways reported of average of 28,000 vehicles per day on Harkrider in 2013. Prince Street now has four roundabouts with an average traffic count of 15,000 vehicles per day. Traffic is moving more swiftly through this corridor, not because vehicles are moving at a higher rate of speed but because waiting time at intersections is reduced by 75 percent, according to the city’s traffic engineer.

Features of Roundabouts

Safety. Roundabouts reduce both the number of accidents and their severity. While the amount of traffic on roundabout streets has increased each year, the number of accidents has not. The two-year average before and after for the two roundabouts on Harkrider (excluding the year of construction) shows an average of 20 accidents before and 20 accidents after. The Conway Police Department rates accidents for severity. Since the above roundabouts have been completed, nearly all the accidents were rated 5, property

damage only, or 4, possible injury. None of the accidents have been 1s or 2s, fatality or incapacitating injury. Only two accidents were category 3, non-incapacitating injury. One must conclude that roundabouts are a safer way to move traffic. Delays. Roundabouts move traffic more swiftly, which is a surprise because they slow down traffic. A camcorder suspended over Prince Street from Donaghey to Salem would show that before the roundabouts, the traffic moved in waves with nodes at each traffic signal. Traffic would consolidate at traffic signals and then spread out in the space between signals. With the roundabouts, the traffic flow is smoother, greatly reducing these nodes of bunched-up traffic at intersections. Economics. Roundabouts are more economical for both motorists and the city of Conway. Waiting time is reduced by about 75 percent at roundabout intersections, compared to an intersection with a traffic signal, so cars set at idle for less time, using less gasoline and saving motorists money. Here is a “back of an envelope” approximation. Fifteen thousand cars traverse Prince Street each day through four roundabouts. If the roundabouts reduce idling time on average one minute 15,000 cars means 15,000 minutes or 250 hours each day that cars

are not stopped with the motor running. The Automobile Association of America states that a car idling for one hour consumes one gallon of gas. Thus, each day 250 fewer gallons of gas are consumed because of these four roundabouts. Gasoline at $3 per gallon (hopefully once again) means a saving for motorists of $750 per day. This equates to $273,750 per year, an astonishing figure. But there’s more. Signals require complete stops but roundabouts mostly require slowing down. Acceleration from stop consumes considerably more gasoline than acceleration from slow. Finally, considering all 11 roundabouts in Conway, plus the acceleration issue, we are talking about millions of dollars saved in gasoline consumption in Conway each year because of roundabouts. Less gasoline equals less pollution, a benefit to our environment. In addition to motorists saving money, the city of Conway does too by not purchasing nor maintaining traffic signals. So, Conway roundabouts save motorists and the city millions of dollars each year. Roundabouts work. They are safer, move traffic faster and reduce costs. There are more to come. I thank my friend Chris Spatz for editing and helping with this article. More information on Conway’s economy can be found at www.pulseofconway.com



2014-05 Faulkner County Business Journal