Tech Park board talks Phase 2, wants more info | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tech Park board talks Phase 2, wants more info

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 6:42 AM

click to enlarge LR Tech Park, at 417 Main St.
  • LR Tech Park, at 417 Main St.
It's too bad the Little Rock Technology Park Authority wasn't put in charge in charge of the medical marijuana permit process. Things might have turned out better. Why? Because the board, which heard from four contractors today seeking the job of building Phase 2 of the park, acknowledged a certain lack of construction expertise and said it needed more information before selecting a firm.

Phase 2 will be a 17,500-square-foot building on the vacant lot between the operating park building at 417 Main St. and the Channel 7 building at Third and Main streets.

Authority member Kevin Zaffaroni told each of the four companies — Kinco, CDI, Clark and Nabholz, the finalists in the RFQ process — that he didn't have the background to judge the companies based on their sales pitches today and the information in their RFQs. All have good reputations, he noted; all could erect a building.

So Zaffaroni asked each presenter this interesting question, and said answers would help him make a decision:

How can the Tech Park come up with the money to build the Phase 2 building? What creative ideas do they have, including financing options, and how can they partner with the park to make the project work?

"We have a problem," Zaffaroni explained: Most of the $22 million in taxpayer dollars pledged by the city has gone into Phase 1: the purchase and renovation of the two historic buildings the park is located in now and the purchase of the properties it hopes to expand to, including the parking lot across the street, the adjacent building at Fifth and Main and others.

No big tech company, with big tech dollars, has decided to become part of the park. The park is renovating its fifth floor to be able to accommodate smaller enterprises, rather than one established firm, to which it had once expected to rent. So Zaffaroni is looking for a big idea, one that will help accomplish the park's goal of creating business in the community. Each firm agreed to get back to the board with ideas.

Also, Zaffaroni wasn't satisfied that information provided the board allowed an apples to apples comparison in the minority business percentages each company claimed. The park's RFQ specifically asked about minority business involvement. (All the companies but one that presented today showed up with teams of white men. The exception was CDI, whose project manager, Jill Floyd, is an African American, though it should be noted that she does not appear on the "Our Team" page on the CDI website. Floyd is also a member of the Airport Commission.) One team mentioned small businesses as making up a part of its minority percentages; others measured businesses run by minorities.

Another complication: The board still doesn't know exactly what Phase 2 will consist of, other than a building. It may include lab space, but it may not. Whatever lab space that will be included will have to be flexible to accommodate whatever science comes its way.

The board turned to Eldon Bock of WER Architects, which has been hired to design the Phase 2 building, for guidance. He suggested they call back crucial players — the project manager and the site superintendent — to get to know them better. The board agreed to do just that before going further in their deliberations.

In other business, the board approved a contract with Stone Ward for public relations. Tech Park Director Brent Birch also informed the board that he and board chairman John Burgess had met with the new director of the Arkansas Innovation Hub, Chris Jones, to tell him what the Tech Park does and to talk about a relationship that would be collaborative rather than competitive. 

Tags: , , , , , ,


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Windgate gifts to Arts Center endow curatorial positions, support future: UPDATE

    Arkansas Arts Center Interim Director Laine Harber announced today that the Windgate Charitable Foundation had made an "exciting gift" to endow the Arts Center's curatorial positions. John Brown, the senior adviser to the foundation, confirmed this afternoon that the curatorial endowment is part of a $5 million operating endowment granted the Arts Center at the end of 2017.
    • Aug 20, 2018
  • UA professor wins $3.4 million grant

    A University of Arkansas professor and his team will develop a device to link solar power arrays to the national power grid thanks to a $3.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy.
    • Aug 20, 2018
  • Kaleidoscope Film Festival continues

    And much more.
    • Aug 16, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Tom Cotton's influence on Trump's new security chief

    U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is getting credit for pushing President Donald Trump to select Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser, Politico reports.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

    Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.
    • Mar 16, 2017

Most Viewed

  • UA professor wins $3.4 million grant

    A University of Arkansas professor and his team will develop a device to link solar power arrays to the national power grid thanks to a $3.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Most Recent Comments



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