AVC wants Tech Park space, and isn't alone | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

AVC wants Tech Park space, and isn't alone

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 8:19 PM

click to enlarge Lee Watson, wants to move AVC to Tech Park space on Markham.
  • Lee Watson, wants to move AVC to Tech Park space on Markham.
It was just a year and a month ago when the Little Rock Technology Park Authority board voted to locate the taxpayer-funded enterprise on Main Street downtown. I say just a year because of the two-year circuitous route the board took — through midtown, down to the river, back south and out west — to get to the location vote. But things are moving far more quickly now, with nine (not named) companies, one especially eager, and the Arkansas Venture Center seeking Tech Park real estate.

Lee Watson, co-founder of AVC, a business accelerator now housed in the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce,   to the board tonight in the unadorned 8,000-square-foot space it leases on the ground floor of the Block Two building on Markham Street, across from the Statehouse Convention Center. The ARK Challenge had been using the space; it will be available in January. The city of Little Rock, a sponsor of the park, is providing the rent for the space ($95,616), which owned by a Colorado company.

Watson is proposing that AVC offer its incubator, accelerator and start-up programming in exchange for free rent. Watson announced that AVC will offer in Code School for programming engineers that will lead to "full stack" training under Mark Doderer; its sponsorship comes from Acxiom, FIS, the AEDC, Arkansas Children's Hospital (where wife Marci Doderer is CEO) and Mainstream Technologies. He said the AVC, which is helping in the start-up of seven companies, is running out of space at the chamber.

Park board member Jay Chesshir, who is also on the board of AVC, told his fellow members that he thinks it's a smart move for the park to move AVC into the park as a way to feed what the accelerator calls "early-stage entrepreneurs" and new companies into the park. "Just building space isn't enough," Chesshir said, "if you don't drive that with programs. ... You can build the prettiest building and it may not work."

Chair Dr. Mary Good asked what the utilities in the building were; Tech Park Director Brent Birch said they ran about $800 a month, a sum she had a hard time believing until he told her he wrote the checks. She said AVC could pay the utility bills out of the revenues it generates from its classes and memberships, and Lee Watson agreed.

AVC could have new revenue, too: Gov. Mike Beebe has offered a grant of $500,000 to the Venture Center if it can match it. If the value of the Tech Park space lease is figured in, AVC is close to its match.

Throwing a small spanner into the works, Chesshir noted that one of the companies that have approached him and Birch wants 3,000 square feet of walled, securable space in the Markham building, and that he heard today the owner is mad that the park has not yet committed to that. Which raised questions: How many companies can AVC put in the building? What about other companies that want to locate there that would pay rent? Is there room for both AVC classes, etc., start-ups and companies? Can the Authority afford to build out leasable space in what is now a bare, open building?

Chesshir observed that if the board could move quickly on obtaining space on Main Street, which it is working to do, it could meet the needs of companies needing built-out securable space. The board is negotiating with Stephens Inc. on the purchase of several properties, including what is called the Annex in the 500 block of Main St. The 28,600-square-foot building is empty now, and ready for occupancy on its top floors.

At board member Tom Butler's suggestion, the board decided it needed to hammer out how the space could be divided into leased and free space, who would manage the building and other details. It will meet again next Wednesday at the chamber to continue the discussion on what is actually a good problem for the park: Interest in using it.

Sign up for the Daily Update email


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • High spirits at Rock Town

    The alcohol will really flow this weekend. In addition to the Great Arkansas Beer Festival and Queers & Beers, Rock Town Distillery gets in the spirit by celebrating its eighth anniversary with a grand opening of its new building in SoMa, at 1201 Main St.
    • Jun 22, 2018
  • Have yourself a beery little weekend, with GARBF, Beers & Queers

    A sudsy weekend in the river cities kicks off Saturday, June 23, at the Statehouse Convention Center with the Great Arkansas Beer Festival, at 4:30 p.m. (for V.I.P. ticketholders) and 5:30 p.m. for the hoi polloi. Then on Sunday, June 24, Argenta celebrates National Pride Day with Beers & Queers, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of Flyway Brewing in Argenta.
    • Jun 22, 2018
  • Digital kiosk to be unveiled Monday

    Mayor Mark Stodola will unveil on Monday a new digital engagement kiosk outside the Statehouse Convention Center that will provide a touchscreen for wayfinding, transit, weather, shopping and other advertisements and act as a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
    • Jun 22, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Women's March planned in Arkansas to mark Trump inauguration

    Speaking of Donald Trump and in answer to a reader's question: There will be a women's march in Arkansas on Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, as well as the national march planned in Washington.
    • Dec 30, 2016
  • Use of solar on the rise in Arkansas

    With a pivotal ruling expected any day now from the Public Service Commission, Kyle Massey at Arkansas Business reports on the increase in Arkansans adding solar generation units on their homes and business.
    • Apr 13, 2018
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation