Long-term investments paying off for Conway

story by Roby Brock, a TCW content partner and owner of Talk Business
roby@talkbusiness.net

In 2008, Hewlett-Packard announced a decision to locate a major customer service center in Conway, Arkansas. It was the culmination of a lot of foundation laid by economic developers for years and that work is still paying dividends.

Less than two weeks ago, Conway leaders announced that technology firm Inuvo would relocate its headquarters from New York to Conway adding 50 new high-paying jobs.

Publicly-traded Inuvo (NYSE MKT: INUV) develops consumer applications for the Internet and delivers targeted advertisements onto websites owned by partners and the company.

In 2012, Inuvo reported revenues of $53.3 million dollars, up 49% from the previous year.

Jamie Gates, Senior Vice-president for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, was a guest on this week’s television edition of Talk Business Arkansas. He said that Inuvo’s investment in the community has already begun.

“They’re going to hire Arkansans – that’s already begun in some fashion – but then we’re having people locate from around the country and around the world, which is fun for us as a community,” Gates said. “It compliments our growth and it brings new talent to the Conway economy.”

Conway has roots in the tech field with the major presence of Acxiom Corp., which began there more than four decades ago. Add Hewlett-Packard and now Inuvo and you’re still leaving out other notable tech companies located in the town of more than 60,000.

Privacy Star, which makes apps and settings for cell phones and smart devices, is located in downtown Conway. The community also boasts Rock-Pond, a health care company, and CAT², a software firm working with the feed management and proteins industry.

Gates says that while investments like its technology park and complimentary infrastructure have made Conway attractive for high-tech businesses, he thinks investments made more than a century ago may have anchored the community’s growth.

“I don’t know if there’s anyone who can still take credit for the secret ingredient for our success,” said Gates, who noted that city forefathers actively recruited what is now the University of Central Arkansas, Central Baptist College, and Hendrix College to Conway more than a century ago.

Those annual graduates today give the city a “unique advantage” when it comes to recruiting jobs that require four-year college degrees.

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“Thankfully that is an industry that is the still very relevant, maybe even the most relevant to compete for today’s jobs,” he said.

Link here for a video interview with Gates.

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Comments

interesting comparison

When I was at Hendrix in the 80's, Conway's permanent population was 3,000. Now it's 60,000. White Flight or no, the city is growing. We focus on losing our coveted "second largest city" status to Fayetteville; how long before we're third,fourth, or even lower? Welcome to Fort Smith -the city that declined to be the home of the U of A many years ago, and still seems to have not learned its lessons.

That's what I was thinking

I was thinking the same thing. For the life of me I cannot see how Fort Smith can ignore or, worse, disregard the current and future state of the area. These "leaders" are supposed to be successful businessmen in one way or another and all I've ever seen are things similar to the case studies in poor vision and strategy I saw in my first year of grad school when getting my Masters in Business Administration. One-tracked and closed-minded with no grasp of what it takes to execute (or even create) a strategic vision. The only vision I've ever seen produced by them are on greater regulation and stricter building codes to force every business in town into a red brick with white trim building. I honestly have no hope for Fort Smith. It's a continuously dying ghetto.
I was thinking the same thing. For the life of me I cannot see how Fort Smith can ignore or, worse, disregard the current and future state of the area. These "leaders" are supposed to be successful businessmen in one way or another and all I've ever seen are things similar to the case studies in poor vision and strategy I saw in my first year of grad school when getting my Masters in Business Administration. One-tracked and closed-minded with no grasp of what it takes to execute (or even create) a strategic vision. The only vision I've ever seen produced by them are on greater regulation and stricter building codes to force every business in town into a red ...>> Read the entire comment.

Old Guard keeping Old Guard in control

This is all that it is. Just that it's well, you know, becoming less to control.