Chamber raises $1 million for startup space with ‘Conway 125’ campaign

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 655 views 

The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce announced during its annual meeting Thursday (March 9) the launch of the Conway 125 funding campaign to pay for seven “generation-defining” projects aimed toward improving the quality of life within the city, according to a chamber press release.

One such project includes creating a startup space, which will include the Arnold Innovation Center in downtown Conway.

During the chamber meeting, Conway Corp. Board Chair Johnny Adams announced a $1 million pledge toward the innovation center, which will include office space for lease and seminar facilities, according to the chamber. It is named in honor of the corporation’s retiring CEO, Richie Arnold.

Created in partnership with Conway Development Corp., the planned startup space would be the setting for entrepreneurship programming and mentoring services, in addition to serving as affordable, or possibly free, work space with shared resources for new business owners, according to the chamber website.

Another planned project is the purchase and renovation of the former Grand Theatre at Oak and Chestnut streets, and the chamber announced during the meeting the theater was under contract and being inspected by theater restoration specialists.

Other projects funded through Conway 125 include the “trails everywhere” initiative, expanding the city’s trail system and adding pedestrian overpasses; the installation of more than 180 wayfinding signs for area destinations; the “Roundabout Art” project, where the city’s traffic roundabouts would be settings for large-scale public arts projects; installation of splash pads in parks throughout Conway; and interstate beautification through the installation and maintenance of landscaping.

The projects were identified in the Conway2025 plan, set forth in 2010, available for viewing here.

Conway2025 outlines 132 goals in seven categories. Focus areas include investment in infrastructure (Keep Conway Building), public transportation (Keep Conway Moving), job creation (Keep Conway Working), crime prevention (Keep Conway Safe), the arts (Keep Conway Creative), education (Keep Conway Learning) and the promotion of an active lifestyle (Keep Conway Active).

Chamber CEO Brad Lacy said that the progress made on the Conway125 campaign projects are evidence the initiative is not a “pie in the sky,” according to the press release.

“These projects are ambitious but clearly within reach,” Lacy said in the release. “Our goal is to see all of these projects completed over the next five years.”

More information is available at

About 1,000 Conway area business and community leaders attended the meeting, according to the chamber.