220 Arkansas Companies Have Survived More Than 100 Years

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa in Eureka Springs has survived more than 100 years.

Founded by Polish immigrant Mark Mathias Cohn in 1874, the company remained in the family until The Dunlap Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, purchased it in 1989. Dunlap gave up on M.M. Cohn in 2007, and all that's left of it is some signage on vacant storefronts. (For more on M.M. Cohn, see the list of "25 Downfalls" in this week's special 25th anniversary issue of Arkansas Business.)

The financial sector of Arkansas' oldest companies experienced only a name change, but it was historic nonetheless. Elk Horn Bank & Trust Co. of Arkadelphia, which had the same name since 1884, got a new name last year: Southern Bancorp Bank of Arkansas. It was part of a common branding campaign for the three charters owned by Southern Bancorp Inc. of Arkadelphia.

The Power of the Press
Despite the flurry of failing national newspapers, things aren't all bad with the news business.

Though the list of oldest companies is fairly saturated with 43 banks, the dominant industry is news. Of the 220 companies in Arkansas that have survived more than 100 years, 67 are newspapers.

"A lot of the information that you can find on newspapers now is all bad, when the other side of that story is that the smaller newspapers and, in many cases, the community suburban newspapers are doing very well," said Tom Larimer, executive director of the Arkansas Press Association. "But you don't ever hear that. You just hear the bad news about the metro dailies struggling to stay afloat and in some cases not staying afloat."

But the success of small-town papers is not just luck.

"They're not just sticking around. Some of them are doing very well and growing because they are the main source of information for the people in their communities. That's long been their franchise and nothing has changed in that regard," Larimer said.

"They don't get their news anywhere else. They don't have TV stations in these small communities. Obviously they get TV, but they don't necessarily cover their local news. And that's why newspapers have remained relevant to their reader bases in these small communities."



Please read our comments policy before commenting.