State puts $575,000 into Argenta innovation center | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

State puts $575,000 into Argenta innovation center

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM

click to enlarge ARGENTA CHECK: Gov. Mike Beebe delivered one. - ARKANSAS BUSINESS
  • Arkansas Business
  • ARGENTA CHECK: Gov. Mike Beebe delivered one.
Gov. Mike Beebe was on hand today for the announcement of a $575,000 Arkansas Economic Development Commission grant to the Argenta Regional Innovation Hub.

A building at Broadway and Poplar, North Little Rock, will house the center, which is aimed at encouraging tech startups, STEM education and after-school and summer programs for students.

Arkansas Business has full details. 

The investment provides an opportunity for me to add a comment I received from Grant Tennille, AEDC director, in response to a question about a $200,000 AEDC grant to move utility lines to clear the way for deveopment of two hotels and an apartment project catacorner at Fourth and Rock in downtown Little Rock. I'd received questions about the  state investment in utility work. The Little Rock City Board is supposed to vote today on a $48,500 matching grant. Wrote Tennille yesterday:

This is the kind of project that Economic Infrastructure Fund [part of the governor's surplus money allocation] is typically used to do: utility relocation, rail relocation, water & sewer, etc.

Not sure about what's typical, but in most states where I've done regulatory work, utility relocation is the responsibility of the utility and they pass the cost on to the ratepayers. Don't know what the negotiation with the developer and the utility was in this case, but the city contacted us and asked us to participate with them.

For AEDC, this was an investment in the city center, not unlike the role we played in locating Orbea downtown or the announcement we'll participate in tomorrow in Argenta.

Downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock serve as Arkansas's front door, and where we can, we try to participate in projects, large and small that we hope will have an impact. We've found that downtown Little Rock/North Little Rock has been a huge difference-maker with first-time visitors to our state, looking at Arkansas for business relocation.

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