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LR TECH BOARD TO REQUEST $6.8 MILLION ADVANCE FROM CITY FOR DOWNTOWN DEAL
The Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a motion by Chairwoman Mary Goode to request a $6.8 million advance from the City of Little Rock to fund the purchase of prime downtown real estate from Stephens Inc. in the fast-growing Creative Corridor on Main Street.
In addition, the board asked executive director Brent Birch and board member and Little Rock real estate developer Dickson Flake to move forward with preparing a request for a financing proposal to local lenders to bankroll the tech park’s Phase I annexation and development plan, which is expected to top $30 million. If the Little Rock board of directors approves the loan advance, Dickson said the tech park board would be in a better position to close the deal with Stephens and access financing for the first phase of the multi-year project.
In earlier conversations with Little Rock’s legal counsel, Goode said the city would only be able to access current year funds ($6.8 million) that are part of the $22 million tech park bounty that taxpayers approved during a 2011 sales tax referendum. Flake also said Stephens had appraised the properties up for sale surrounding the KATV building at Fourth and Main streets at $11.6 million.
Both actions come almost exactly a year after the tight-knitted board hired Birch to lead the tech park, and approved a consulting firm’s recommendation to begin talks to purchase “prime property” in the downtown area to serve as the authority’s headquarters.
Goode said it is the hope of the board to take ownership of the properties from Stephens by the end of the year.
In other business, the board’s financial report showed that the taxpayer-financed venture had net losses of more than $27,000 for the first six months of 2015 at the tech park’s 107 E. Markham space. Consolidated financials show net income of $8,800 through the first half of the year.
MICROSOFT WRITES OFF BOTCHED NOKIA PHONE DEAL, CUTS NEARLY 8,000 JOBS
Silicon Valley tech giant Microsoft Corp. announced plans Wednesday to restructure the company’s phone hardware business, which will include the reduction of up to 7,800 positions tied to the company’s $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia’s phone and tablet business in April 2015.
In a news release, Microsoft said it will record an impairment charge of approximately $7.6 billion related to assets associated with the acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business in addition to a restructuring charge of approximately $750 million to $850 million.
The announcement essentially ends Microsoft’s failed experiment under former CEO Steve Ballmer, who boasted that the deal would allow the tech company to compete with rivals Google, Apple and Samsung in the lucrative mobile and smartphone marketplace.
SBA ANNOUNCES GRANT FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR SMALL NATIVE AMERICAN BUSINESSES
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it is seeking grant proposals to award up to $700,000 in grant funding for projects that promote the development of innovative and successful Native American firms that are eligible for assistance under the SBA’s 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Program.
The SBA expects to award three to seven grants to provide funding opportunities for Native American Micro Enterprise Business Services. There is no matching fund requirement, and applications will be accepted through July 11, 2015. The grant funding will be made to service providers to enable them to make unique management and technical assistance services available to eligible Native American small businesses that are approved by the SBA to receive services.
NATIONAL MAYORS’ COLLABORATIVE RELEASES POLICY AGENDA FOR BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT
Next Century Cities, a city-to-city collaborative of 100 mayors who support fast, affordable, and reliable Internet, released a policy agenda to guide the deployment of next-generation broadband Internet.
“Connecting 21st Century Communities: A Policy Agenda for Broadband Stakeholders” provides concrete policies and actions for local, state, and federal governments, as well as community members and philanthropic organizations, that will support the development of high-quality broadband networks throughout the country.
The policy agenda, which recommends a number of policy steps that can be taken by allies at all levels of government and others to move broadband forward, can be found here.