Great neighborhoods help drive economic development. Central Arkansas neighborhoods like Argenta, River Market, Creative Corridor, and East Village are showing us how. New companies flock to places that provide quality of life, talent, and proximity to like-minded innovators. If Central Arkansas is to continue to move forward with growth and vitality, we must protect, support, and cultivate those neighborhoods so we can attract fast-growth companies to our cities.
Community vibrancy, urban or suburban, is proven to drive job growth and economic development. According to a recent study of 84 cities across America, vibrant, dense, mixed-use areas were preferred over lower-density, auto-dependent office parks.
We have vibrant neighborhoods in Central Arkansas offering work environments that are attracting talented people and companies are following. River Market, Creative Corridor, Argenta, East Village, and the Convention District provide a diverse environment composed of housing, office space, food, and entertainment in unique, historical buildings. These are attractive to an emerging work force that demands work/life balance and meaningful community connections. These neighborhoods have shown to attract some of the most important and fastest growing companies we have in the state.
In the last 24 months, major moves have occurred in our core neighborhoods. Simmons Bank moved a significant portion of its operations to The River Market, First Orion will anchor a major development in Argenta, and there has been a massive influx of creative institutions and professional service firms filling once empty storefronts in the Creative Corridor.
The biggest evidence of all lies in our business incubators, Little Rock Tech Park and Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. Both chose to locate in two of our core neighborhoods. This follows a national trend for companies like Launch Pad that seek out creative, energetic, diverse, and vibrant environments.
One of the newest examples of these places in our community is East Village. Once a sleepy neighborhood stalled in growth and direction, East Village is quickly becoming one of the hottest neighborhoods for fast growth and innovative companies in our community.East Village is home to a mixed use community that boasts the Clinton Presidential Library and Park, Heifer International World Headquarters, the Rock City Yacht Club marina, hotels, businesses, retail, schools, University of Arkansas, and a mix of housing options. East Village is the brainchild of Newmark Moses Tucker Partners and Cromwell Architects Engineers. East Village came to be when the pair teamed to create the Paint Factory which houses the corporate headquarters for Cromwell, 16 loft apartments, Cathead’s Diner, a print shop, and a community room.
Since the announcement of East Village, a number of innovative and fast growth companies have followed including Entegrity and Rock Dental Brands. East Village is even home to one of the fastest growing breweries in Arkansas, Lost Forty Brewing. With vacant space in some great old industrial buildings, and open land available for redevelopment, East Village is sure to continue to be a part of the economic development landscape.
As a collection of great places, Central Arkansas is creating a vibrancy that is becoming important in economic development and growth. The future of our community depends on the commitment of our civic leaders to the success and vibrancy of these places.