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Arkansas Economic Developers (AED) is an association of professional and volunteer economic developers in the state of Arkansas. AED was organized in 1976 with a constitution and by-laws formally adopted on September 27, 1977.

According to its constitution, AED is organized for the purpose of advancing, through professional and educational efforts, the quality of life in Arkansas by the development of employment opportunities through economic growth and community development. Article III of the constitution states that any reputable person engaged in activities directed toward the economic and community development of Arkansas shall be eligible for membership in AED when elected in accordance with provisions set forth in the by-laws.

map_ar_lgArkansas Economic Developers is governed by a board of directors and elected officers. Two directors from each Arkansas congressional district are elected by the General Membership. Elected officers are the President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, and Secretary/Treasurer. Article IV, Section 9 provides the authority for the Board of Directors to develop and/or approve policy statements concerning matters affecting Arkansas economic development and to disseminate them in the name of the association.

Activities of the Arkansas Economic Developers have been concentrated in educational programs for our membership and others seeking a better understanding of economic/community development techniques. In November 1979, AED organized and conducted the first privately sponsored Basic Industrial Development Course (BIDC) in Arkansas for local officials and other persons interested in bringing more industrial/economic jobs to their communities. In 1982, the first advanced program was offered for professionals and others who had previously attended the basic course. Several years ago, AED partnered with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to implement a new program known as the Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC) Program, the program was later named the Mid-South Basic Course.

Membership in AED provides an opportunity to participate in numerous activities that center around efforts to educate the economic developer in a rapidly changing field. The AED annual conference features development experts that address key issues of our business that affect our daily activities. Seminars are also conducted during the year to address a specific issue of economic development. In addition, AED serves as a co-sponsor with other development groups for regional meetings around Arkansas.

Economic development, as it is practiced today, is an extremely competitive situation, especially between the states. A state's ability to compete rests heavily on the legislative and regulatory climate it can project. Collectively, this is referred to as the "Business Climate." As a professional association, Arkansas Economic Developers is obligated to keep its membership knowledgeable in this area. Furthermore, when legislation or regulatory law is found to be prejudicing the ability to attract or expand job opportunities in Arkansas, we feel a professional responsibility to make our own opinions known. On this basis, we have an active legislative program at the federal and state level.


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Arkansas Business

  • Developer Eyes New Retail, Loft Apartments for Argenta

    A developer is planning space for three new retailers and new upscale loft apartments in the 700 block of Main Street in downtown North Little Rock.

    7th Street LLC, led by John Chandler, purchased four buildings in the area and plans to start renovations on three of them by Jan. 1. The fourth is under contract to be sold, Chandler told Arkansas Business on Tuesday.

    "We’ve been doing some projects over there and we’ve had really good success with attracting and retaining tenants," Chandler said. "This is part of the last old Main Street, and we are optimistic about that area and the momentum."

    Newmark Grubb Arkansas, the leasing agency for the project, announced the renovation plans last week.

    Chandler said they've not decided what retailers will be occupy the buildings, which are about 10,000 SF each. He said the plan is for "soft retail," but they're "certainly open to all comers."

    Chandler emphasized that the apartments will be different from what's already available in the area.

    "These are not your everyday apartments — they will be very one-of-a-kind kind of spaces and sort of the last of the old Main Street historic-type apartments," Chandler said. "This is not new construction. They’ll all have little yards, covered parking. We’re tying to create different, unusual upscale living down there."

    Although there are a handful of development projects going on in downtown Little Rock, Chandler said there's a need in Argenta for housing and retail.

    "I think there are a lot of people in all different sort of circumstances who are interested in having space downtown in urban, walkable neighborhoods," he said.

    Chandler aims for the renovations to maintain the area's historic feel. "The building exteriors will be brought back to original historical facades," he said.

    Chandler wants to finish the project by mid-2016.

    This isn't Chandler's first Argenta project. He also leads 314 Main LLC, which recently completed a renovation of the 9,000 SF former Cornerstone building at 314-316 Main St.. Chandler's company purchased the building in December for $625,000 from a company led by Brenda Kent.

    Newmark Grubb said the building is now 100 percent leased with Skinny J's Restaurant on the first floor and the headquarters of online retailer Bourbon & Boots on the second floor.

  • Arkansas Health Task Force Nearing Recommendations

    LITTLE ROCK - A legislative task force looking at the future of Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid program is nearing a deadline for recommendations.

    Department of Human Services Director John Selig said Tuesday that the state needs to quickly submit a request for an extension of the federal waiver used to create the program. He says the request is in the works and will include notification of intent to amend the program, which can come later.

    Rep. Charlie Collins, chairman of the Health Reform Legislative Task Force, told members Tuesday that they'll vote at the December meeting on recommendations for the program and for overall changes to the Medicaid system.

    Collins says the group has had fewer contentious discussions about changing the hybrid program than about overall health care reforms, and is narrowing its options.

    (Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Gary Rickenbach Offers Conditional Guilty Plea in One Bank Case

    Gary Rickenbach, the former senior executive vice president of One Bank & Trust of Little Rock, on Monday offered a conditional guilty plea in federal court provided the judge agrees to sentence him to two years of probation.

    Federal prosecutors agreed to replace a seven-count indictment against Rickenbach with a single charge of misprision of a felony — essentially failure to report a crime.

    U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker has not decided whether to go along with the plea deal.

    Rickenbach had been under indictment since April 2014. The original two-count indictment was replaced by seven counts in March, when three more former One Bank executives were added to the indictment: Michael Heald, Tom Whitehead and Bradley Paul.

    In his plea deal, he admits that he failed to tell bank regulators that his former boss, the late Layton "Scooter" Stuart, falsified call reports in 2009 and 2010 in order to hide the default on a $1.5 million line of credit that Rickenbach recommended for an acquaintance in Florida. Court documents identify the borrower only as A.S., even though Albert Solaroli has already pleaded guilty to money laundering. Solaroli was scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, but that hearing was canceled and has not been reset.

    Heald, Whitehead and Paul are currently scheduled for trial beginning Dec. 14.

    Rickenbach is represented by Little Rock attorney William O. James Jr.