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NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

NORTH METRO

JULY 2019

BUSINESS JOURNAL

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Douglas Companies quietly grows into one of the state’s largest private businesses Story on Page 6


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JULY 2019

NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

Conway Area Chamber solicits presentation topics for Business Expo

The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking input for presentation topics at its annual Business Expo and Taste of Conway event on Thursday, Oct. 17. In an online survey posted to its Facebook page, the Chamber invites the public to indicate which business-related topics they would be interested in learning more about at the seminars that take place during the daylong event. Customer service, social media, business financial planning, personal finance, time management, insurance and risk management, marketing trends, health and wellness, and sales and sales leads are among the topics presented for consideration. Those taking the survey can suggest topics not listed and can also recommend local or regional speakers to present at Business Expo. Business Expo brings more than 100 exhibitors together at

conwaychamber.org

Comprehensive list of job openings available at pulseofconway.com

Beginning in July, the Conway and industry need you. Conway Area Chamber of Commerce is a great place to live AND a and Conway Development great place to work. Join the Corporation will produce a more than 35,000 people who bimonthly report featuring come to work in Conway every open positions from Conway day. #ConwayWorks” employers. The “Open Positions” report is housed at pulseofconway.com in the “Resources” section. Pulse of Conway is sponsored by Bank of the Ozarks. The most recent report was Visit http://PulseofConway.com for updated July 1 and lists 445 open downloadable, easy-to-search data positions with 35 employers in about sales tax collections, building various industries. In a Facebook permits, and more. post, the Conway Area Chamber the Conway Expo Center and Fairgrounds to generate business of Commerce wrote: “Our community and local businesses leads, network, and learn about products and services. The 2019 Business Expo is presented by Cousins’ Office Furniture and Ozark Escape. Booth space for member businesses is still available and begins at $425. Taste of Conway concludes Auto Center of Conway, Inc. Business Expo and is presented by Crain Hyundai of Conway and More. The event gives Emergency the community the chance to Roadside sample food from ConwayService area restaurants, caterers, food and drink distributors, and other food-service providers. Businesses that fall into one of these categories and are members of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce can participate in Taste of Conway at no cost. Additional information about Business Expo and Taste of Conway is available at ALL ONEE ST ON STOP OP ffor or A LL yyour ourr ou 280 Hwy. 64 East • Conway conwaychamber.org. www.stevesautocenterconway.com Automotive Needs!

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Space available for 15th annual Teacher Breakfast and Education Fair Space available for 15th annual Teacher Breakfast and Education Fair The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its Teacher Breakfast and Education Fair, an event that welcomes teachers back to school and gives local businesses the opportunity to interact with hundreds of potential customers. Conway Corporation and Arkansas Surgical Hospital are the presenting sponsors for the 15th annual exhibition, which will take place at the Conway High School cafeteria at 2300 Prince Street on Tuesday, Aug. 6. The event, scheduled from 7 to 8:45 a.m., will include a complimentary breakfast, sponsored by Klaasmeyer Construction. More than 100 local businesses will have booths set up to display their products and services, along with door prizes. Teachers and staff from Conway Public Schools, Conway Christian School and St. Joseph School are all welcome to attend the event, providing an opportunity for educators to see what the vendors have to offer and for them to mingle with colleagues. The Teacher Fair also gives participating businesses access to more than 500 educators who are primarily women, second-income earners with an average salary of $55,000, and the primary decision makers about health care and household purchases. Businesses interested in attracting customers who fit this demographic can register at conwaychamber.org by Friday, July 19. Table space is available for $300. Gold and platinum sponsorships – which include two tables and logo and/or name inclusion on select digital and printed materials – are available for $500 and $1,000, respectively. Area restaurants are invited to participate in “Lunch Break,” underwritten by Sandstone Real Estate Group, to help welcome teachers back to school. Conwayarea teachers will receive a wristband at the morning Teacher Fair event on Tuesday, Aug. 6, which will give them an all-day,

20 percent discount off their total bill at participating restaurants on this day only. Restaurants that would like to be included in this promotion with Conway’s teachers should contact director of events Therese Williams at therese@conwayarkansas.org or 501-932-5411 by Friday, July 19, so they

can be included in promotional materials. All restaurants that are current members of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce are eligible to participate. No registration fee is required.


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NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

JULY 2019

conwaychamber.org

Metro Little Rock Alliance Launches New Website

LITTLE ROCK, AR (July 1, 2019) – The Metro Little Rock Alliance (MLRA) has launched a new brand and website to market the 12-county region to corporate executives, site selection consultants and potential new residents as a prime location to do business and live in Central Arkansas. Metrolittlerockalliance.com positions Metro Little Rock as an epicenter of low costs, connected infrastructure and skilled talent, where companies large and small can find “Way More in Central Arkansas.” L’Oreal USA, Tyson Foods, Caterpillar, Dillard’s, Acxiom and Dassault Falcon Jet are among the global brands with major operations in the region. The website aims to promote the success that is possible in Metro Little Rock, as well as to serve as a resource for business investment decisions and talent attraction. In addition to providing information about

doing business in Metro Little Rock, the new website serves as a gateway to connect companies with contacts and resources throughout the diverse region. Metro Little Rock spans 12 counties with a range of urban, suburban and rural communities that offer a variety of benefits for businesses – including robust infrastructure for distribution and industrial operations, a burgeoning innovation and FinTech ecosystem and breathtaking natural beauty. Innovative features of the website include an interactive map and county profiles, company success stories and facts, figures and rankings related to workforce, infrastructure and the region’s leading industry sectors. To build the brand and website, MLRA partnered with Development Counsellors International (DCI), a specialized place marketing agency headquartered in New

York City. Following the launch of the website, MLRA and DCI will leverage the reach of its messaging through digital advertising, e-newsletter marketing, national media relations and events and meetings with site selection consultants. About Metro Little Rock Alliance The Metro Little Rock Alliance (MLRA) is a twelve-county economic development organization marketing a population of over one million people within a 60-mile radius of downtown Little Rock. Created to cultivate regional growth and prosperity throughout the area, MLRA markets the region’s strengths and advantages to prospective companies and site location consultants for the purpose of attracting investment and creating jobs. For more information, visit metrolittlerockalliance.com.


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JULY 2019

NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

conwaychamber.org

Douglas Companies – Hiding in plain sight

Tucked away in the northeast corner of the Conway Industrial Park sits a company that interacts daily with some of the world’s largest consumer brands while providing products to more than 1,000 customers. There is a very good chance that if you’ve driven across this state and purchased candy, a beverage, or prepared food from a convenience store, the product you purchased was there because of Conway wholesaler Douglas Companies. Founded 46 years ago in Texarkana by Bob Douglas, Douglas Companies quickly (1978) opened a second location in Conway. That was followed by another location in Jonesboro. In 2005, a consolidation of all locations into the Conway facility allowed for investments in technology that catapulted Douglas’s growth. Company leadership credits the consolidation with a 117% increase in sales. That makes the company the 44th largest privately-owned company in Arkansas with an annual revenue of more than $250 million. Today Douglas is run by siblings Steve Douglas and Susie Douglas Munson. Together they oversee the 150 employees who deliver a variety of more than 7,000 types of products to customers in six states. Their warehousing and inventory operation is a thoroughly modern process on par with wellknown consumer logistics giants. “Technology is a big part of our company,” says

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Munson. “We’ve automated our warehousing, distribution, and sales.” Munson says that the investments in technology allow every Douglas employee to focus on the most important part of their business – relationships with the customer. Frequently, that customer relationship is so strong that it’s hard to tell where the customer stops and Douglas’s influence starts. Douglas Companies’ role extends far beyond that of a wholesaler into that of trusted advisor and consultant. Douglas Companies has extensive “Plan-O-Gram” capabilities for every size of store. They use item movement analytics to ensure that each store is stocked with what their customers want. Determining what customers want today is done by looking at the real-time inventory trends across more than 1,000 accounts. But how does a convenience store plan for what customers will not only like – but expect – in the future? Munson says they employ a number of industry-leading programs to meet the challenge. “Consumers are more sophisticated now. They have a wide variety of tastes. And they have high expectations.” Through decades-long relationships with household name brands such as Nestle, Kellogg, Hershey, and more, Douglas leads their customers through a changing consumer landscape with training events like their own Annual Trade

Show with more than 170 industry vendors in attendance. They also provide customers and employees access to retail insights from global companies. Recent partnerships have included hosting the “Hershey Mobile Customer Insights Center,” a traveling “lab” and display designed to help stores grow sales and customer engagement. Recently, Douglas responded to the industry trend of increased food options in the store by building a full test kitchen in their Conway facility. The test kitchen helps store owners try out and even develop new recipes and prepared food before integrating it into their store. “We help our customers create and maintain their own brand,” says Munson. “Our employees are helping merchandise the store. We’re involved with store fixtures and layout. It’s a consultative role.” Like many companies, a top priority for Douglas is competing for top talent. The company employs drivers, warehouse employees, IT professionals, sales people, and merchandisers, along with the traditional back-office support you would expect from one of Arkansas’s largest privately held companies. Munson says she wants more people in central Arkansas to understand the opportunities Douglas can offer an employee but to also understand the quality of employees currently on their team. “A lot of our people have worked here for a long time. Our tenure of management staff is 15-20 years. Our drivers are home every night and can earn between $55k-$65k annually. They’re professionals who we count on to maintain relationships with our customers just like our sales and merchandise teams. And because we’re growing, we’re always looking for good people.” Douglas Companies thrives by helping their customers compete and succeed in a constantly changing consumer environment. That work takes place behind the scenes and out of the view of the final customer. Their Conway facility uses industry-leading technology and hosts some of the world’s best-known consumer brands. That facility is tucked away in the Conway Industrial Park. And finally, Douglas Companies is providing high-quality employment to a broad range of 150 central Arkansans. That’s something that definitely deserves our attention.


NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

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JULY 2019

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Tough talk about talent, trades, and training

*this article was prepared for the Talk Business and Politics “Data Points” series. To follow the “Data Points” series visit www.TalkBusiness.net or search for #TBPDataPoints on social media. About five years ago people in the business and economic development world started talking a lot more about a shortage of skilled tradespeople and the quality of America’s workforce. Since then, those conversations have entered the mainstream and have increased in frequency and intensity. The conversation has now expanded to include topics like the cost of a college degree and the financial return on education. At its best this conversation has encouraged us to think about important topics like jobs of the future, the financial value of education, and even the dignity of work. However, at its worst it has led us to ageism, themes of anti-education, and the passing along of bad information and foolish advice.

job descriptions don’t match the available worker today. Not because the workforce has changed--but because the market has changed. As with most complex topics that enter the mainstream—all nuance is lost. When some people claim that “college isn’t necessary to earn a good salary” they have a point. There are a number of sustainable and profitable career paths that don’t require a four-year degree (and the debt that comes along with it.) However, when that statement is followed up with “a good truck driver or welder can make $80,000 a year” they’ve embellished to an irresponsible degree. The rule still applies that jobs requiring a fouryear degree (or more) are in the highest demand and offer salaries and benefits that more than make up for the cost of attending college. Not everyone wants or is able to attend college. And not everyone wants or is able to work in the jobs that require college. Thankfully we have an incredibly broad

“Skilled Trades” as search term on Google

To understand why the conversation evolved and intensified it’s helpful to look back at when it started. In 2013, the country was coming out of the great recession. The unemployment rate had fallen two points from its 2009 high of 10%. The recovery was fully underway. At that same time, those workers born in 1948 were turning 65. 1947 and 1948 were the years we realized the largest annual increase during the baby boom. Baby boomers mass exodus from the workplace was, and still is, landscape altering. Something else took place during the great recession that would impact the search for talent. When unemployment was high, those companies that were hiring began to increase the preferred qualifications and requirements in their job postings. In short, employers could be picky at 10% unemployment. They could ask a lot of an applicant and expect to find one. However, today unemployment is at 3.5%. Those more stringent

range of educational opportunities between a high school diploma and a four-year degree. And it is a fact that anyone entering the workforce will need substantial formal education after high-school if they expect to earn and sustain even an average living. Very young workers (18 to 21 years old) have increased challenges finding a meaningful place in the economy. Many commercial truck driving jobs have age restrictions. Manufacturers frequently require, in addition to relevant skills, proven experience in a safety conscious environment. This is why the earliest years after high school are the best time to continue education. Associate degrees, technical certificates, certificates of proficiency, and professional licensures are all examples of formal credentials that make up the currency of acquiring a job without a four-year degree. Frequently, these are not “negotiable” as a job requirement because state

code or insurance requirements will dictate that the work be done by a credentialed professional. And when they aren’t required, they’re frequently the only way to stand out among applicants. Finally, and most importantly, post-secondary education really does prepare you for work after you get a job. If your goal is increased lifetime earnings, everyone should pursue all of the education they can expect to successfully obtain. If a four-year degree is within reach—get one. The same for an associates or professional certificate. Debt for education is only especially bad when it doesn’t result in a degree or credential. It’s also important to remember that none of these things are mutually exclusive. You can work an entry level trade while going to college. There’s no law against being an electrician with a college degree. In fact, marrying a competency in a skilled trade with a business education is almost a recipe for entrepreneurship. Arkansas needs a trained and educated workforce to make the most of growing economies like today’s. When the economy slows down, a prepared workforce will help the state compete. Those same things are as true for the workers themselves. Executive Summary • The shortage of “skilled tradespeople” is due to a growing economy and baby boomers retiring. • The shortage of workers with a four-year degree and/or technical talent in Arkansas is a bigger problem than the skilled trades shortage. • Since 2013, the number of employed persons has grown by 6.7%. During that same period the population has only grown by 2.2%. Tens of thousands of Arkansans have re-entered the workforce. • As a rule, the more education someone successfully obtains the more they can expect to earn. • Education beyond a high school diploma (post-secondary) is essential to sustaining even a living wage. The best time to get that education is right after high school. • The median salary for a truck driver, welder, or plumber in Arkansas is approximately $38k


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NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

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conwaychamber.org

2013

Description Claims Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators Foresters Drafters Elementary School Teachers Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants Surveyors Computer Network Support Specialists Electricians Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Machinists Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers Graphic Designers Carpenters Painters, Construction and Maintenance Pharmacy Technicians

2019

Population

2,959,373

3,026,412

67,039 population increase (approximately 44k are “working age” 15-64)

Employed

1,228,419

1,310,886

82,467 more people working

2018 Jobs (AR) 1,497 175 1,495 11,462 2,499

Median Annual Earnings (AR) $60,719.64 $53,890.38 $47,421.44 $47,081.62 $46,426.49

Annual Openings (AR) 153 19 157 932 284

Education Required Bachelor’s Bachelor’s Associate or Certificate Bachelor’s Associate or Bachelor’s

446 1,746 6,055 34,430 2,645 12,090

$43,487.50 $41,879.12 $41,511.78 $38,341.79 $38,145.61 $37,695.26

35 145 809 4,429 394 934

Associate or Certificate Associate or Certificate Advanced Licensure CDL High School Diploma Associate

3,274 4,715 1,291 3,009

$37,589.50 $36,807.67 $36,099.61 $35,369.93

467 642 137 366

Advanced Licensure Associate or Certificate Bachelor’s, Associate, or Certificate Associate or Certificate

1,610 7,901 3,089 4,435

$34,837.83 $31,509.50 $29,913.48 $28,339.24

173 842 298 376

Bachelor’s High School Diploma N/A High School Diploma


North Metro Economy at a Glance Population US...........................325,719,178 Arkansas.....................3,004,279 Conway............................65,782 Cleburne County............25,048 2 Conway County................20,916 Faulkner County.............123,654 Perry County ....................10,348 Van Buren County.............16,506 Civilian Labor Force April-2019 Seasonally Adjusted US...........................162,470,000 Arkansas.....................1,360,519 Not Seasonally Adjusted US...............................1,620,970 Arkansas.....................1,359,733 Conway............................33,618 Cleburne County.................9,009 Conway County..................8,130 Faulkner County...............61,579 Perry County......................4,255 Van Buren County...............5,768 Unemployment Rate April-2019 Seasonally Adjusted US...................................... 3.6% Arkansas............................ 3.6% Not Seasonally Adjusted US...................................... 3.3% Arkansas............................ 2.9% Conway.............................. 2.5% Cleburne County................. 3.7% Conway County.................. 3.9% Faulkner County................. 2.4% Perry County...................... 3.6% Van Buren County............... 4.0%

Bank Deposits ($000) June Conway 2018..........................$1,827,728 2017..........................$1,686,727 Percent Change 8.36% Cleburne County 2018.............................$554,248 2017.............................$524,244 Percent Change................ 5.72% Conway County 2018.............................$358,473 2017.............................$382,665 Percent Change.............. -6.32% Faulkner County 2018..........................$2,192,595 2017..........................$2,052,122 Percent Change................ 6.85% Perry County 2018...............................$72,986 2017...............................$71,596 Percent Change................ 1.94% Van Buren County 2018.............................$276,171 2017.............................$277,646 Percent Change...............-0.53% Sales & Use Tax Collections June Conway 2019..........................$2,886,002 2018..........................$2,549,113 Percent Change.............. 13.22% Tax Rate......................... 2.125% Cleburne County 2019.............................$530,497 2018.............................$479,398

Percent Change.............. 10.66% Tax Rate......................... 1.625% Conway County 2019.............................$492,876 2018.............................$427,717 Percent Change.............. 15.23% Tax Rate........................... 1.75% Faulkner County 2019.............................$861,470 2018.............................$778,183 Percent Change.............. 10.70% Tax Rate........................... 0.50% Perry County 2019.............................$122,903 2018.............................$128,624 Percent Change...............-4.45% Tax Rate........................... 2.50% Van Buren County 2019.............................$372,507 2018.............................$309,448 Percent Change.............. 20.38% Tax Rate........................... 2.00% Restaurant Sales* Year to Date (March) Conway 2019........................$49,971,852 2018........................$48,885,014 Percent Change................ 2.22% *Includes mixed drink sales Hotel Sales Year to Date (March) Conway 2019..........................$4,057,348 2018..........................$3,980,719 Percent Change................ 1.93%

Residential Building Permits Year to Date (June) Conway 2019......................................158 2018........................................89 Percent Change.............. 77.53% Residential Units Sold** (New and Existing) Year to Date (June) Conway 2019......................................337 2018......................................388 Percent Change.............-13.14% Year to Date (March) Cleburne County 2019........................................85 2018........................................74 Percent Change.............. 14.86% Conway County 2019........................................37 2018........................................31 Percent Change.............. 19.35% Faulkner County 2019......................................314 2018......................................332 Percent Change...............-5.42% Perry County 2019........................................16 2018........................................17 Percent Change...............-5.88% Van Buren County 2019........................................48 2018........................................51 Percent Change...............-5.88%

Value of Residential Units Sold** Year to Date (June) Conway 2019........................$66,148,931 2018........................$73,330,446 Percent Change...............-9.79% Year to Date (March) Cleburne County 2019........................$15,136,120 2018........................$13,102,736 Percent Change.............. 15.52% Conway County 2019..........................$5,125,092 2018..........................$3,352,588 Percent Change.............. 52.87% Faulkner County 2019........................$54,062,322 2018........................$57,131,888 Percent Change...............-5.37% Perry County 2019..........................$2,064,896 2018..........................$2,224,484 Percent Change...............-7.17% Van Buren County 2019..........................$4,532,112 2018..........................$5,910,645 Percent Change.............-23.32% Average Price of Residential Units Sold (New and Existing)** Year to Date (June) Conway 2019.............................$196,288 2018..............................$188,996 Percent Change................ 3.86%

Year to Date (March) Cleburne County 2019.............................$178,072 2018.............................$177,064 Percent Change................ 0.57% Conway County 2019.............................$138,516 2018.............................$108,148 Percent Change.............. 28.08% Faulkner County 2019.............................$172,173 2018.............................$172,084 Percent Change................ 0.05% Perry County 2019.............................$129,056 \2018...........................$130,852 Percent Change...............-1.37% Van Buren County 2019...............................$94,419 2018.............................$115,895 Percent Change.............. -18.53%

Proud sponsor of Pulse of Conway Sources: 2012-2016 ACS 5-Year Data Profiles, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, C2ER, Sperling’s Best Places, Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Cooperative Arkansas Realtors’ Multiple Listing Services, Arkansas Realtors Association, and City of Conway. **Includes sales of residential units only.


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NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

conwaychamber.org

CDI Central hosts Downtown Comeback event

Forty-seven seniors from Conway’s high schools were recognized at the 2019 Academic Signing Day presented by Acxiom.

Community Development Institute Central is hosting an open-to-the-public event about how communitywide preservation, promotion, and economic development efforts led to the revitalization of Laurel, Mississippi. As seen on HGTV’s “Home Town,” Mallorie and Jim Rasberry and Josh Nowell will be the keynote speakers at CDI 2019 and will discuss at this after-hours community event about how it took a town to save their hometown. The presentation will take place UCA’s McCastlain Ballroom on July 30, 2019,

from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and appetizers will be served until 5:30. Registration is $20 and is available at uca.edu/go/ downtowncomeback. (CDI 2019 participants should not register for the event.) About CDI The Community Developmentt Institute began at the University of Central Arkansas in 1987 with the goal of equipping community leaders and economic development professionals with the tools and strategies they needed

to create vibrant, successful communities. CDI is the go-to resource for community and economic development training, attracting professionals from Arkansas and surrounding states. Experienced practitioners provide attendees with practical tools and techniques that they can take back to their communities to make an immediate difference. The CDI experience is a threeyear training program, with one week of training per year. Learn more at uca.edu/cdi.


NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

conwaychamber.org

JULY 2019 11

Shop Conway The city of Conway can meet your every shopping need within seconds of Interstate 40.And if you have more than one stop in mind, there is always another shopping district only moments away. Shopping in Conway is convenient, comfortable, and close-to-home.

MAP KEY EXIT 127 DOWNTOWN Conway’s downtown shopping scene is a perfect mix of old and new. Whether it’s a jewelry store doing business on the same block for more than 100 years or a high fashion boutique offering the latest trends.Approximately 40 retail businesses and restaurants call downtown Conway home.

EXIT 125 CONWAY TOWNE CENTRE The Conway Towne Centre is an 180,000-squarefoot shopping center located off US Highway 65. Anchored by a Cinemark movie theatre, Urban Air Trampoline Park, JCPenney, and Ofce Depot, the Conway Towne Centre is also home to several other restaurants and retail stores.

EXIT 129 LEWIS CROSSING Conway’s newest shopping destination is Lewis Crossing. Just off Dave Ward Dr., east of Interstate 40, Lewis Crossing offers more than a dozen nationally known restaurants and stores including Sam’s Club,Academy Sports, Ulta, Michaels and On the Border, Bed Bath & Beyond, and PetCo.

Downtown Exit 127 Conway Towne Centre Exit 125

Lewis Crossing Exit 129 Conway Commons Exit 127

EXIT 127 CONWAY COMMONS Located off East Oak Street, Conway Commons is a regional shopping hub with over 654,000 square feet and 43 stores, including big name brands such as T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods, Belk,Target, Old Navy, Kohl’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

866.7CONWAY | CVB@ConwayArkansas.org | ConwayArk.com


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Profile for Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

Douglas Companies quietly grows into one of the state's largest private businesses