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NORTH METRO

NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

DECEMBER 2019

BUSINESS JOURNAL

Central Baptist College PAID ADVERTISEMENT

2020 marks 20th anniversary of adult education


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NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

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SFI Arkansas announces expansion of Conway facility Company to add up to 75 new positions over the next 18 months Conway based manufacturer SFI Arkansas recently announced plans to expand their facility and hire up to 75 new employees over the next 18 months. “Our reinvestment into our Conway facility is very intentional,” said Jim McGill, vice president and business unit manager, SFI Arkansas. “Our employees work hard every day to assure we stay globally competitive. They deserve to have the best tools and technology to maintain that competitiveness.” McGill says that the expansion is the result of continued manufacturing growth in the south as well as the increased presence of steel manufacturing in Arkansas. “We are happy to support the expansion of the SFI plant in Conway and the additional jobs it will create,” said Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “This is a testament to how a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce influences decision-makers when it comes to locating, moving or expanding. SFI employees and their families, their clients and Arkansas as a whole will benefit from this smart business decision for years to come.” SFI Arkansas has been located in Conway for more than 40 years and currently has approximately 70 employees. The company develops, supplies and services medium to heavy gauge components and value-added services for a select group of original equipment manufacturers in the agricultural, construction, industrial, transportation and defense industries. SFI is a fully integrated fabricator encompassing two plants located in Memphis, Tennessee and Conway. Under the same ownership umbrella of one of the largest steel service centers in the country, SFI brings the strength and breadth of over one million tons of steel and metals, sourced, processed, and distributed across all industries each year. “The best economic news a community can get is that one of its longtime employers is expanding,” said Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry. “SFI has an excellent reputation in the

manufacturing community. Their employees and management deserve a lot of credit for working in a way that is creating opportunities for even more Arkansans.” McGill said that the new investments and positions would represent a move towards increased mechanical aptitude and problem-solving skills. The average wages for new positions could approach $25 per hour. Hiring would begin in early 2020. “It’s cliché to say our employees are the key to our success,” said McGill. “But it’s true. The folks who work at SFI and other small businesses in Conway, Faulkner County, and beyond are the backbone of our state.”


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NORTH METRO BUSINESS JOURNAL

DECEMBER 2019

Structurlam Selects Conway, Arkansas, for Its First U.S. Plant World-class mass timber production facility to create 130 jobs Structurlam Mass Timber elements of a project offsite, accelerating Corporation, the leading mass timber on-site production schedules by up to 25% manufacturer in North America, announced compared to traditional onsite building in December that it will expand its with steel and concrete. Structurlam is the operations into the United States, with a first manufacturer to bring mass timber plant in Conway, Ark., set to open in midto the North American market and the 2021. The Canadian-based company, in first to introduce CLT in the production which Walmart has made an investment, of industrial ground protection matting will spend $90 million to purchase, retrofit products used in the energy and power and equip a former steel plant and create transmission sectors. 130 new jobs, and will source softwood lumber from Arkansasgrown Southern Pine trees. “The commercial and residential building industry is experiencing a revolution brought on by the rise of mass timber building solutions,” said Hardy Wentzel, CEO of Structurlam. “At Structurlam, we’re transforming wood, one of nature’s most renewable resources, into a greener, more cost-effective, and aestheticallypleasing alternative to concrete Mayor Bart Castleberry addresses a crowd of Structurlam employees, state officials, and steel. We’re proud to establish and community members. Canadian-based Structurlam announced plans to open their first U.S. facility in Conway and hire 130 employees. roots in the great state of Arkansas and the City of Conway, and support Walmart as the exclusive supplier of mass timber products for its new “Our new U.S. location will answer the home office campus.” demand for mass timber building products Mass timber is a category of building and industrial matting products in the construction featuring structural laminated southern, central and eastern United States, wood components for walls, roofs, floors, and will complement our British Columbia beams and columns. A key economic benefit operation serving the Canadian, Pacific of mass timber is the ability to design, Northwest, California and Intermountain model and prefabricate the structural markets,” added Wentzel.

Agriculture is Arkansas’s leading industry with timber making up a third of the overall income. The state has a strong stewardship program in place to protect timber as a renewable resource, planting 1.6 trees for every tree that is harvested. “With 19 million acres of available forestland and a skilled workforce that is second to none, Arkansas is the natural choice for Structurlam’s first expansion into the United States,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “We are excited about the technology and the additional opportunities for growth Structurlam brings with it to Arkansas. The company’s partnership with Walmart is an example of how this expansion will benefit our state’s timber industry.” Walmart will be the first customer of Structurlam’s Conway facility. The world’s largest retailer plans to use more than 1.1 million cubic feet of Arkansas-grown and Arkansas-produced mass timber in its new Home Office campus in Bentonville, Arkansas, making it the largest campus project in the U.S. using mass timber. “Structurlam is uniquely positioned to deliver its innovative approach to digital design collaboration and mass timber manufacturing to Walmart and the State of Arkansas.” said Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of Walmart Corporate Affairs. “With their help we are able to realize our goal of connecting our associates with nature and the beauty of Arkansas through our new Home Office project.” continued on page 4

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Structurlam selected Conway for its proximity to 19 million acres of sustainable forestland that covers more than half of the state’s total land area. The new plant is located close to transportation corridors that reach large southern and eastern markets. Other considerations included a site-ready location and available workforce. “Today’s announcement is one of the most exciting in Conway’s long manufacturing history,” said Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry. “Structurlam is a perfect fit for our community. We’re excited and honored to join their commitment to sustainability and innovation. This is a big win for the Conway workforce, the local economy, and the entire state of Arkansas.” About Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation Structurlam is the leading North American provider of mass timber solutions for construction and industrial markets in Canada and the U.S. Its structural laminated mass timber and industrial products include CrossLam® CLT cross-laminated panels, and GlulamPLUS® glue-laminated columns and beams. Structurlam is also the first producer in North America to introduce CLT in the production of industrial ground protection matting products. Structurlam’s entire product line is built from North American sustainably harvested softwood lumber, ensuring consistent product and environmental standards. Structurlam collaborates with architects, engineers and industrial OEM customers to create fully integrated solutions that combine design, engineering, a customized project delivery experience. Established in 1962, Structurlam’s world-class reputation is built on innovation, cost-efficiency and quality. Structurlam is based in Penticton, British Columbia and has mass timber production facilities in Penticton, Okanagan Falls, and Olivier, BC. For more information, visit structurlam.com.

Governor Asa Hutchinson visits with Walmart Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Dan Bartlett (L) and Mayor Bart Castleberry (R).

About the Arkansas Economic Development Commission The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce, seeks to create economic opportunity by attracting higher-paying jobs, expanding and diversifying local economies in the state, increasing incomes and investment, and generating positive growth throughout The Natural State. Arkansas is a probusiness environment operating leaner, faster and more focused through a streamlined state government designed to act on corporate interests quickly and decisively. For more information, visit ArkansasEDC.com.

About the Arkansas Department of Commerce The Arkansas Department of Commerce is the umbrella department for workforce and economic development drivers. Its divisions and regulatory boards include Division of Aeronautics, Waterways Commission, Wine Producers Council, Division of Workforce Services, Office of Skills Development, State Bank Department, Insurance Department, Securities Department, Economic Development Commission and Development Finance Authority. It was established July 2019 as part of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s wide-sweeping efficiency and transformation efforts to reduce 42 cabinet agencies to 15 while maintaining services for all Arkansans.


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2020 marks 20th anniversary of adult education program at Central Baptist College New students eligible for 20% discount during landmark year

PAID ADVERTISEMENT

For two decades, Central Baptist College has helped hundreds of busy adults earn a college degree through PACE, its nontraditional degree program. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the PACE program, CBC is offering a 20% discount to new PACE students or students re-admitting to the program after at least a semester off.


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For two decades, Central Baptist College has helped hundreds of busy adults earn a college degree through PACE, its nontraditional degree program. PACE, or Professional Adult College Education, offers a flexible format and delivery method to accommodate the schedules of adult learners, many of whom work full-time, take care of children or aging parents, and manage other roles and responsibilities. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the PACE program, CBC is offering a 20% discount to new PACE students or students re-admitting to the program after at least a semester off. Amy Reed, a graduate of PACE who works at Central Baptist College as its director of development, said PACE made it possible for her to attend school and continue to work. “I began my collegiate journey right out of high school in 1984, but I didn’t receive my degree until 2015,” Reed said. “PACE gave me the ability to work full time and attend classes full time. The instructors understood the struggle of trying to do both, and they made themselves available and supported me every step of the way.” By focusing on one class at a time, only one night per week, students like Reed are able to more easily dedicate their limited time to a degree program. PACE classes are five weeks long and meet one night per week. The program is designed to allow students to take one five-week class, or three credit hours, at a time. Students who enroll in one class every five weeks over the course of a semester would have completed four courses – or 12 credit hours – making them full time. To be considered full time during a traditional 16-week semester, students must take the four courses, or 12 credit hours, simultaneously, making it difficult for those with work or family obligations to complete a degree program.

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PACE courses are offered Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights from 6-10 p.m. Students can pick the night and the delivery method –in-class, online, or a hybrid of the two – that fits their schedule. Online courses can be completed synchronously in real time or asynchronously via a video recording. Students with a high-speed internet connection and a computer, laptop, or mobile device can log on during the class session and engage with the instructor and fellow students from anywhere in the world. Students also can opt to complete the online course at their convenience by viewing the recording within the five-week course structure. “Although I chose to do most of my coursework in the classroom, the online option was also helpful,” Reed said. “I enjoyed being in a class with adults who had similar life experiences.” One of those adults with a similar life experience was her husband, Donnie. “My husband and I were able to graduate together. That was special because we were both first-generation college graduates. It was important to both of us to set an example for our girls.” PACE offers associate degree options in general education, business, and military technologies and bachelor’s degree options in business administration, general studies, church administration, human resource management, leadership, leadership and ministry, management information systems, organizational management, and psychology. All degrees are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and fully transferable to other accredited institutions. Central Baptist College also accepts transfer credits from other accredited institutions. Several students in the PACE program are enlisted in the military. Central Baptist College provides one of the most competitive veteran discounts in the state,

DECEMBER 2019

which is part of the reason the college has been recognized as a Military Friendly School for 10 consecutive years. CBC’s Gold distinction is awarded to the top 10% of all military-friendly schools. In most cases, after their military benefits are applied, the remaining tuition costs will be waived. In addition, if all military benefits are exhausted, a 25% discount is still applied. CBC has also incorporated other ways to make its PACE program more accessible to adult learners. Through a partnership with external organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities, CBC offers employees or members of these organizations a tuition discount to enroll in PACE bachelor’s degree classes. The goal of the CBC PACE Preferred Business Partnership is to help create a better educated and skill-based workforce. For more information about the PACE program, visit cbc.edu/pace.

The flexible format and delivery method provided by Central Baptist College’s PACE program made it possible for Amy Reed and her husband, Donnie, to complete their degrees and graduate together. “It was important to both of us to set an example for our girls,” Amy said.

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The 2019 Women in Business honorees are as follows (row 1, from left): Donna Seal, Outstanding Woman in Business; Velda Lueders, Diamond Achievement Award recipient; Melissa Allen, Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit; (row 2, from left) Jamisa Nuness-Hogan, Outstanding Woman in Business; Rebekah Fincher, Outstanding Woman in Business; Cinda Montgomery, Outstanding Woman in Business; and Rita Birch, Outstanding Woman in Business.

Seven honored at Women in Business awards luncheon 25-year real estate veteran Velda Lueders receives Diamond Achievement Award The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s eighth annual Women in Business Awards took place Tuesday, Dec. 10, at Centennial Valley Events Center. The sellout event honored five Outstanding Women in Business, an Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit, and a Diamond Achievement Award recipient. Velda Lueders of Coldwell Banker RPM Group is the 2019 Diamond Achievement Award recipient. This award is presented to an individual with at least 25 years of professional experience who has inspired and empowered many generations of women and who has had a positive impact on those in her profession and in the community. Lueders has worked in real estate for more than 25 years. Recognized by her peers in the industry as a successful Realtor and effective leader, she has served as the president for the Faulkner County Board of Realtors twice, was inducted into the Faulkner County Hall of Fame, and received recognition as the Faulkner County Realtor of the Year as well as the Arkansas Realtor of the Year. The 2019 Outstanding Women in Business are Rita Birch, Arvest Bank; Rebekah Fincher, Conway Regional Health System; Jamisa

Nuness-Hogan, Kids World Child Care Center; Cinda Montgomery, Yours Truly Consignment Inc.; and Donna Seal, LCSW. Melissa Allen of CAPCA is the 2019 Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit. These women “embody high standards of excellence, dedication, and accomplishment to their respective organizations, industries, and to the business community.” The selection committee consisted of women executives outside the state of Arkansas: Jereta Halstead, California Chamber of Commerce (Sacramento); Shae Janner, Brenham/Washington County Chamber & CVB (Brenham, Texas); and Jennifer Johnson, Fresno Chamber of Commerce (Fresno, California). Additional information about the Outstanding Women in Business and Nonprofit follows. Rita Birch: Rita Birch oversees business development for Arvest Bank. In her 28 years in the industry, she has had the opportunity to serve as team leader, offering training for those just starting out in banking, as well as coaching members of the community to achieve their goals through United Way’s financial courses. Birch takes pride in her dedication to helping others and attributes her work ethic to the time she spent growing up on a dairy farm. continued on page 10


North Metro Economy at a Glance Population US ..........................325,719,178 Arkansas ....................3,004,279 Conway ...........................65,782 Cleburne County...............25,048 Conway County................20,916 Faulkner County.............123,654 Perry County....................10,348 Van Buren County.............16,506 Civilian Labor Force September-2019 Seasonally Adjusted US ..........................164,039,000 Arkansas.....................1,362,180 Not Seasonally Adjusted US...........................163,943,000 Arkansas.....................1,363,893 Conway............................36,693 Cleburne County.................9,347 Conway County..................8,266 Faulkner County...............61,804 Perry County......................4,250 Van Buren County...............5,762 Unemployment Rate September-2019 Seasonally Adjusted US ..................................... 3.7% Arkansas ........................... 3.5% Not Seasonally Adjusted US ..................................... 3.8% Arkansas............................ 3.4% Conway.............................. 2.6% Cleburne County ................ 4.3% Conway County ................. 4.2% Faulkner County ................ 2.9% Perry County ...................... 3.5% Van Buren County .............. 4.5%

Bank Deposits June Conway 2019........................... $1,835,390 2018........................... $1,829,012 Percent Change .................0.35%

Conway County 2019.............................$494,907 2018.............................$438,049 Percent Change ............. 12.98% Tax Rate ........................... 1.75%

Faulkner County Cleburne County 2019.............................$864,301 2018. ............................$811,805 2019.............................. $556,697 2018.............................. $554,248 Percent Change ............... 6.47% Percent Change .................0.44% Tax Rate ........................... 0.50% Conway County 2019.............................. $364,163 2018.............................. $358,473 Percent Change .................1.59%

Perry County 2019.............................$138,198 2018.............................$133,246 Percent Change ............... 3.72% Tax Rate ........................... 2.50%

Faulkner County 2019........................... $2,228,144 Van Buren County 2018........................... $2,193,879 2019.............................$417,328 Percent Change .................1.56% 2018.............................$341,093 Percent Change ............. 22.35% Perry County 2019................................ $65,345 Tax Rate ........................... 2.00% 2018................................ $72,986 Percent Change ............. -10.47% Restaurant Sales* Van Buren County Year to Date (August) 2019.............................. $278,929 Conway 2018.............................. $276,171 Percent Change .................1.00% 2019......................$139,015,008 2018......................$133,269,215 Sales & Use Tax Collections Percent Change ............... 4.31% *Includes mixed drink sales November Conway 2019...........................$2,838,872 2018...........................$2,651,851 Percent Change ................ 7.05% Tax Rate .......................... 2.125% Cleburne County 2019.............................$514,847 2018.............................$443,193 Percent Change ............. 16.17% Tax Rate ......................... 1.625%

Hotel Sales Year to Date (August) Conway 2019........................$13,280,549 2018........................$12,508,551 Percent Change ............... 6.17%

Residential Building Permits Year to Date (November) Conway 2019......................................254 2018......................................185 Percent Change ............. 37.30%

Values of Residential Units Sold** Year to Date (November) Conway 2019......................$139,577,050 2018......................$140,564,151 Percent Change...............-0.70%

Residential Units Sold** (New and Existing) Year to Date (November) Conway 2019......................................706 2018......................................734 Percent Change ................. -3.81

Year to Date (June) Cleburne County 2019....................... $38,165,380 2018....................... $40,677,785 Percent Change ............. -6.18%

Year to Date (June) Cleburne County 2019......................................220 2018......................................215 Percent Change ............... 2.33% Conway County 2019........................................87 2018........................................62 Percent Change ............. 40.32% Faulkner County 2019......................................775 2018......................................815 Percent Change ..............-4.91% Perry County 2019........................................28 2018........................................34 Percent Change ..........-17.65%1 Van Buren County 2019......................................119 2018......................................124 Percent Change ..............-4.03%

Conway County 2019........................$10,232,940 2018..........................$7,426,608 Percent Change ............. 37.79% Faulkner County 2019......................$142,247,375 2018......................$141,569,575 Percent Change ............... 0.48% Perry County 2019..........................$3,092,124 2018..........................$4,865,332 Percent Change ............-36.45% Van Buren County 2019........................$13,074,173 2018........................$12,340,480 Percent Change ............... 5.95% Average Price of Residential Units Sold** (New and Existing) Year to Date (November) Conway 2019..............................$197,701 2018..............................$191,504 Percent Change..................3.24% **Includes sales of residential units

Year to Date (June) Cleburne County 2019.............................$173,479 2018.............................$189,199 Percent Change ..............-8.31% Conway County 2019.............................$117,620 2018.............................$119,784 Percent Change ..............-1.81% Faulkner County 2019.............................$183,545 2018.............................$173,705 Percent Change ............... 5.66% Perry County 2019.............................$110,433 2018.............................$143,098 Percent Change ............-22.83% Van Buren County 2019.............................$109,867 2018...............................$99,520 Percent Change ............. 10.40%

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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Rebekah Fincher: As chief administrative officer for Conway Regional Health System, Rebekah Fincher is responsible for strategy, growth, and business development for the hospital. A collaborator by nature, Fincher has worked with her team to achieve growth in Conway Regional’s number of providers, spanning seven counties. She recently received the C.E. Melville Young Administrator of the Year Award, presented by the Arkansas Hospital Association. Cinda Montgomery: Cinda Montgomery is the owner of Yours Truly Consignment Inc. Over the past 20 years of business, the store has expanded seven times and welcomed items from more than 26,000 people. Montgomery is committed to investing in the next generation of leaders, and her staff of 30 consists largely of local college students. A favorite of area customers and consigners alike, Yours Truly Consignment Inc. was recently honored as the 2019 Outstanding Small Business in Conway. Jamisa Nuness-Hogan: With over two decades of experience in the child care industry, Jamisa Nuness-Hogan oversees a staff who share her dedication to the well-being of children and families. Kids World Childcare Center accommodates more than 100 children each day, providing families with a safe and engaging environment that is ripe with growth. As owner of the business, Nuness-Hogan is particularly moved when children she once cared for eventually become parents and bring their own children to her facility for care. Donna Seal, LCSW: As a consultant, national speaker, small group leader at church, or as a therapist, Donna Seal has shown patience, understanding, and encouragement, positively shaping the lives of those who she meets for over 24 years. In addition to working with individual clients, Seal has a heart for health care organizations. She co-founded HEART Consulting Group (Healthcare Employees Achieving Results Together) to design strategies to improve patient satisfaction and employee morale. Melissa Allen: Melissa Allen is the community programs director for the Community Action Program for Central Arkansas. For more than 10 years, she has worked to empower families to transition out of poverty. Outside of witnessing positive transformations in the individuals with whom she works, Allen considers the implementation of Project Homeless Connect, Student Market, and Reality Enrichment and Life Lessons Simulation as some of the most effective tools in CAPCA’s work. About the Event This year’s speakers were the first seven women to be named Secretary in Arkansas state government. This past April, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law the

In conversation with broadcast journalist Melissa Dunbar Gates, the seven female cabinet secretaries for the state of Arkansas shared with the audience of more than 300 their career paths and other life experiences (row 1, from left): Secretary Becky Keogh, Secretary Elizabeth Thomas Smith, Secretary Jami Cook, Melissa Dunbar Gates, (row 2, from left) Secretary Wendy Kelley, Secretary Stacy Hurst, Secretary Amy Fecher, and Secretary Cindy Gillespie.

Transformation and Efficiencies Act of 2019, bringing about a historic transformation and reorganization of state government agencies, boards, and commissions – the first reorganization of state government in nearly 50 years. A cornerstone of this effort was the reduction in cabinet-level agencies from 42 to 15, resulting in a more modern and efficient way to operate state government without cutting any services. Fifteen cabinet secretaries were appointed to lead each agency, and seven of these 15 positions are held by women: • Department of Correction: Wendy Kelley • Department of Energy and Environment: Becky Keogh • Department of Human Services: Cindy Gillespie • Department of Inspector General: Elizabeth Thomas Smith • Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism: Stacy Hurst • Department of Public Safety: Jami Cook • Department of Transformation and Shared Services: Amy Fecher In conversation with broadcast journalist Melissa Dunbar Gates, the seven female cabinet secretaries shared with the audience of more than 300 their career paths and other life experiences. The 2019 Women in Business awards luncheon was presented by Windows USA and Window Mart. For more information about Women in Business, visit ConwayChamber.org.


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Profile for Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

December 2019 North Metro Business Journal