Forbes Recognizes Conway, Arkansas, as Emerging Prime Location for Startups and Entrepreneurs

 September 29, 2017

Don’t let the town on the outskirts of metropolitan Little Rock fool you, Conway, Arkansas, is becoming a hub for innovation and technology-focused startups. As commercial development continues to thrive, the city is attracting new and existing companies to the area. In fact, Forbes magazinelisted Conway as one of the seven towns in the U.S. where individuals can afford to be an entrepreneur. 

Conway has seen a shift toward a more innovative and technological business atmosphere. Successful startups from Metova and Edafiodowntown, to major tech companies Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Acxiom, are thriving in the city and are attracting and obtaining some of the best talent in the technology sector.

In the past, professionals got a job, and then moved to wherever that job required them to live. Today, many young professionalsdecide first where they want to live, and then worry about finding a job in that location. The City of Conway has invested time and money into revitalizing its downtown, improving connectivity and creating places of interest with various development projects. Conway also boasts a low cost of living, making it an affordable place to start a new business. These improvements are bringing in young, ambitious and educated professionals, and companies with a technology-centered culture.

In additional to increased economic development and the quality of life for residents, educational opportunities are also contributing to the city’s growth. Conway is home to three colleges – University of Central Arkansas, Central Baptist College and Hendrix College. These colleges are becoming significant players in the startup culture of the city by bringing in young talent to the area. The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) has partnered with Startup Junkie Consulting and a group of executive consultants, coaches, local leaders and experts to launch a public-private initiative aimed at driving entrepreneurship and innovation across UCA, central Arkansas and beyond.

This new initiative, simply called Conductor, is sponsored by the university and will focus on delivering mentoring, counseling, training, capital readiness and technical assistance to startups, small businesses and emerging investors in central Arkansas. In addition to providing world-class programming and consulting for startups and small businesses, the Conductor will provide innovation and commercialization support for UCA and all of its academic programs.

The university has also engaged the Innovation Hub at Winrock International to create an on-campus maker space that will offer advanced tools, technology and equipment for educational and entrepreneurial use. Students, faculty and community members will have access to the space, which will be modeled after the Innovation Hub’s original location in North Little Rock. The Conductor will also provide expertise and programs to facilitate rapid prototyping and other services.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) works to empower entrepreneurs and startup companies across the state. For more information on startup culture and our entrepreneurship partners, visit our website here.

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