Conway Capitalizing On Long-term Investments

by Roby Brock ( 4 views 

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 edition of Talk Business Arkansas, which airs Sunday nights at 10 pm. 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.

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

Below you can watch the full interview with Gates, who also discusses how the $1.1 billion Big River Steel Mill superproject will benefit more than just northeast Arkansas.