Cantrell Drug is expanding its manufacturing facilities in Central Arkansas to add 150 new jobs. The Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission approved a five-year lease of the former Southwest Airlines Reservations Center for $30,000 per month. The lease has three, five-year renewal options.
The compounding pharmacy produces sterile and non-sterile pharmaceutical liquid products for hospitals across the United States, like IV bags or liquid pain medication. It currently operates on Cantrell Avenue in Little Rock. Owner Mike Pierce told the commission they were at capacity in their current location and had looked all over Central Arkansas for a place to expand.
“I want to be clear, this is not a relocation,” said Pierce. “It’s an addition. We have about 150 employees currently and this will allow us to double in size.”
Several commissioners spoke highly of the venture. Stacey Hurst mentioned a preference for aviation-related ventures on the airport property, but said she was pleased with manufacturing as an acceptable substitute.
“I think this meets our goals with an emphasis on economic development for this area of the community,” said Commissioner Jim Dailey.
There are two contingencies in the lease. Cantrell Drug must be able to get a zoning change it has requested from O-3 (office use) to I-2 (industrial use.) It must also be able to secure the final financing. Pierce indicated he had staff recommendations for the zoning change, but would have to wait for the Planning Commission and City Board to vote to know for sure. He also said he was pretty far along in financing talks, but “it’s a chicken and egg situation. I can’t get the deal tied down without the lease settled.”
The lease states Cantrell Drug will make $1.5 million in improvements to the property in the first six months as a tenant. It’s expected to take possession of the building Feb. 1.