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Site Picked for LR Tech Park

After two years of debate, it came down to a vote of the seven technology park board members.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- After two years of debate, it came down to a vote of the seven technology park board members.

The tally was 4-3 in favor of the heart of downtown.

"This is really exciting, because it's going to be a big part of our future economic success," said Jay Chesshir, CEO of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Proponents like Chesshir envision using a mix of currently empty buildings and new structures, mostly along Main Street, to house technology research and innovation that will in turn spawn economic activity.

It's a plan also favored by Little Rock mayor Mark Stodola.

"The developers have told us the best mix for this is as a higher density urban environment," Stodola said.

Three tech park board members voted for a different location off North University, citing the lack of continuous space in downtown and distance to UARL and UAMS.

"People will not actually utilize the space to the extent that they would," said Mary Good, tech park board chair.

Still, dissenters promise to work to make the downtown location a success by hiring a consultant to draw up development plans while also looking into renting space immediately.

"There is already programming planned for next year that we need to take advantage of," Chesshir said.

It will cost $22 million in sales tax money to fund the project, cash that could begin flowing soon.
   
While there's still much work to be done, Stodola says he's please the process is moving forward.


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