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Nation’s Top Places to do Business – Central Arkansas #32

Little Rock is one of two Arkansas metropolitan areas ranked among the nation’s top places to do business.Forbes magazine on Wednesday placed Northwest Arkansas (No. 28) and Central Arkansas (No. 32) near the top of 200 metropolitan statistical areas as “Best Places for Business and Careers.”

The Northwest Arkansas economy is recognized as home to Walmart Stores, Tyson Foods,J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Simmons Foods and the University of Arkansas, the state’s flagship institution. In all, there are 30 companies in the region with annual revenue exceeding $100 million.

Central Arkansas’ diverse economy, centered around the state capital in Little Rock, is home to Stephen’s Inc., Windstream Communications, Dillard’s Inc., Acxiom, Dassault Falcon Jet Corp., The William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Winrock International and Heifer International.

Jay Chesshir, President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce said, “Great states have great regions that work together. With global competition, it’s never been more important to combine efforts to amplify Arkansas’ unique position in the world. These rankings are more evidence that our collaborative efforts yield results.”

Little Rock Look Back: Mayor Jim Dailey

On July 31, 1942, future Little Rock Mayor Dalton James “Jim” Dailey, Jr. was born to Dalton and Ellen Dailey. After graduating from Little Rock Catholic High School, he attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He joined his father in the family business, Dailey’s Office Furniture.

In 1974, Dailey was elected to the City of Little Rock Board of Directors. He served one four-year term. The last two years of that term, he was the Vice Mayor of Little Rock.

Following that term, he remained engaged in civic activities including serving in leadership capacities in community campaigns. He also served as president of the National Office Products Association – the first Arkansan to do so. Dailey also served as the founding chair of Leadership Greater Little Rock.

In 1988, Dailey was elected to return to the City Board. He was reelected in 1992. Dailey served as Vice Mayor in 1991 and 1992. In January 1993, he was chosen by his fellow City Directors to serve a two year term as Mayor. Under his leadership, the Future-Little Rock goal-setting process took place.

Following a voter-approved change to the City structure, the position of Mayor was changed to be elected by the people while maintaining the City Manager form of government. On January 1, 1995, Jim Dailey was sworn in as the first popularly-elected Mayor of the City of Little Rock in over 38 years.

Dailey has served on the Board of Directors for the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, Metroplan, Communities in Schools, Arkansas BioVentures and New Futures for Youth. He was appointed to the National League of Cities Board of Directors and the Municipalities in Transition on Public Finance.

As Mayor, he served as Chair of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee of the Federal Communications Commission. He was also a member of the United States Conference of Mayor’s Communications Task Force. He also served as president of the Arkansas Municipal League in 2002 and 2003.

To read the full article written by Scott Whitely, PR Director for the City of Little Rock.

10 Great Places to Live in 2013

10 Great Places to Live

We found ten small to midsize cities with good jobs, affordable homes and plenty to do indoors and out.

By the Editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, September 2013

What makes a city a great place to live? By our definition: good jobs, reasonably priced homes, decent schools, great health care and manageable size are all part of the mix. We started with metro areas that have a population of 1 million or less and came up with a list of cities that met those criteria. Then we whittled the list to ten cities and sent Kiplinger’s reporters to each one to find the ingredients that make them special: say, a gorgeous setting, a green sensibility, a brainiac population or a rah-rah sports culture. Want to see a moose on your daily walk? Live in Anchorage. Rub elbows with celebrities? Santa Fe’s the place. Billings has an Old West vibe; Dubuque, the Mississippi; and Little Rock, our number-one pick, has something for everyone.
See a Slide Show Version: 10 Great Places to Live, 2013

1. Little Rock, Arkansas
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Set between the Ouachita Mountains and the Arkansas River and known for its rolling hills and ubiquitous trees, Little Rock offers far more than a lovely setting. It is the capital of Arkansas and its largest city, as well as the state center of business, health care and culture. With a population of nearly 200,000, it has the amenities of a larger city but is small enough that you can feel part of the community.
The William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.

Courtesy of Cameron Huddleston

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.

That community includes people of all ages. Residents fill the streets of the eclectic Hillcrest neighborhood to mingle, shop and listen to street music on the first Thursday of each month. Young professionals meet with leaders of major companies as part of Create Little Rock, a networking program. Retirees stay active by volunteering, as 80-year-old Bob Gee does for the Clinton School of Public Service. “There is something here to catch the interest of almost anybody,” Gee says.

Thanks to its location, Little Rock provides plenty of opportunities for hiking, running, cycling, boating, fishing and hunting. Among the many cultural offerings: museums and fine art galleries, a repertory theater, a symphony orchestra, and a performing arts center. Downtown, you can roam the 33-acre Riverfront Park or enjoy eateries ranging from food trucks to fine dining. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library brings in speakers from around the world.

Little Rock employers include the state government, two major universities, Windstream Communications (a telecommunications company), Caterpillar and IT company Acxiom. At 6.6%, the unemployment rate is below the national average (currently 7.6%). Housing costs are below the national average as well. You can find a three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot house for as little as $169,900 in a family-friendly neighborhood in West Little Rock. And residents can get first-rate medical care at several hospitals and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, a world-class center for treating multiple myeloma.

Little Rock Central High School — the site of desegregation battles in 1957 — is now a top-ranked high school, but the city also has its share of underperforming public schools. Mayor Mark Stodola has introduced several initiatives to help improve those schools.

What the locals love: The annual Riverfest performing arts celebration, the paved trail system along the Arkansas River, the mild winters and the lack of traffic. You can get from one side of town to the other in less than 20 minutes. Follow #kipcities on Twitter to see what else there is to love about Little Rock.

2. Burlington, Vermont

On the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, Burlington boasts a cozy feel and stunning beauty, plus a vibrant and varied economy. Eds and meds are big — the city is home to the Uni­versity of Vermont and regional health care provider Fletcher Allen. IBM is near­by and other tech companies are growing, too. Champlain College’s programs in digital technology have led to start-ups, and Dealer.com, which provides software for auto dealers, plans to add 200 jobs annually for the next three years. Result? Plentiful jobs. Unemployment is just 3.5%.
Boats docked on Lake Champlain.

Courtesy of Jessica Anderson

Boats docked on Lake Champlain.

Green is important in the Green Mountain State: Burlington claims the first utility in the country to focus on energy efficiency in the community. Eco-friendly product maker Seventh Generation, solar companies Draker and AllEarth Renewables, and wind supplier NRG Systems round out the area’s green offerings. Mayor Miro Weinberger says the goal is to power the city fully with renewable energy — and Burlington isn’t that far off. Even local brewer Magic Hat converts by-products into methane gas to generate one-third of the brewery’s electricity.

The city has a penchant for creative problem-solving. In the 1970s, as downtowns across the nation were dying, Burlington created the Church Street Marketplace. One of the most successful pedestrian malls in the country, its mix of boutiques and eateries keeps locals coming downtown. Ten years ago, two inner-city schools were failing. The city turned both into magnet schools, one for the arts and the other concentrating on sustainability, and now both of them are highly sought-after.

Tucked between the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains, Burlington boasts stellar vistas year-round. In warm weather, residents enjoy hiking and biking — an eight-mile bike path runs along the lake. As for the winter, yes, it’s cold (the average temperature in January is 19 degrees), but you’re just half an hour from the ski slopes. For $330,000, the average price of a single-family home, you can buy a spacious three-bedroom house with a big yard in the New North End or a more modest home in the South End.

What the locals love: Farm-to-table food at spots such as the Farmhouse Tap & Grill and Skinny Pancake creperie, easy access to ski slopes, and spectacular views. Follow #kipcities on Twitter to see what else there is to love about Burlington.

3. Bryan-College Station, Texas

College Station and the adjoining Bryan, together known as Aggieland, represent a cultural, economic and educational powerhouse in the bucolic southeastern part of the state.

Brimming with Texas hospitality and steeped in tradition, the cities attract and retain college students, young professionals, families and retirees with their highly educated workforce, exemplary public school systems, low crime, 1,800 acres of parks and golf courses, excellent hospitals and an affordable cost of living. The performing arts add to the region’s cultural landscape. And have we mentioned college sports? Suffice it to say, they’re big in Aggieland.
Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field.

Courtesy of Marc Wojno

Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field.

The main driver of all this energy is Texas A&M University, whose research facilities provide business opportunities to the region and jobs to graduates who stay in Aggieland. Big-tech firms have moved into the area: Motorola recently tapped A&M as one of eight universities (including Caltech, Harvard and MIT) for a research partnership. The federal government has made its presence known as well. Last year, the A&M System received a $286 million contract for a federal center that, in part, develops vaccines against influenza. The area expects to add 1,000 jobs in the next five years.

Bordering Bryan, the biomedical corridor has boosted the economy, allowing the city to renovate landmarks and add retail and restaurants. A three-bedroom home in Bryan runs $153,000, on average; in College Station, it’s $165,000.

Aggies young and old are passionate about their football. A $450 million renovation of the 86-year-old Kyle Field will bring the total number of seats to 102,500, making it the biggest stadium in the Southeastern Conference, which A&M joined last year. Conference membership is expected to add $120 million to the local economy each season.

The region has its challenges. Summers can be brutal. And game-day traffic can give even the most avid Aggies a Texas-size headache.

What the locals love: Guest lectures at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum; hiking, fishing, horseback riding and ranching; and, of course, college football. Follow #kipcities on Twitter to see what else there is to love about Bryan-College Station.

To read the full article by Kiplinger.

Gracie Mansion Construction Completion

Congratulations to Tim Heiple, Hank Kelley, Bo Briggs, Bryan Hosto & Maggie Hogan (not pictured) on the completion of construction for Gracie Mansion.

Located in the historic area of Little Rock known as the Quapaw Quarter, this apartment community is within walking distance of the central business area and Rivermarket District.

This three acre property was originally purchased by Absalom Fowler in 1837 and the mansion built as his residence in 1840. Fowler was a successful attorney and one of Arkansas’ leading political figures. Upon his death in 1859 the property was sold a couple of times. The last owner, who used the mansion as a residence, was the Gracie family. The Catholic Diocese purchased the mansion in 1923 from the Gracie’s and used it for St. Andrews Catholic School and Day Care Center until 1976.

In the late 1970’s it was purchased by a local developer who surrounded the antebellum mansion with apartment buildings designed to ensure compatibility with the mansion and a pool was added. The mansion was renovated into six apartment units.

In 2011 the property sold again to another local developer who renovated the entire property, modernizing and restoring the units to meet Little Rock’s demand for downtown housing.

Flake & Kelley Welcomes MISO

Flake & Kelley Commercial congratulates Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) for establishing a new operationgs center in Little Rock.