UPDATED: Conway Wins HP Center and 1,200 Jobs

by Mark Hengel  on Friday, Jun. 20, 2008 12:00 am  

Hewlett-Packard announced plans to locate a state-of-the-art customer service and technical support center in Conway. The center will employ as many as 1,200 people in highly skilled technical positions.

Brad Lacy, president and CEO of the Conway Development Corp., said the organization has had its eyes on information technology companies for some time. The corporation first began working to build the Meadows, a 181-acre office park, seven years ago.

"Seven years ago, you took a big risk to develop this park. Some people did not understand it, and others said it wouldn't work. Today, Hewlett-Packard says it works," Lacy said during the press conference.

Lacy said the city was just lucky to land Hewlett-Packard, which is No. 14 on the Fortune 500.

"It is the world's largest technology company. Our target has always been information technology companies, and now we have the world's largest technology company," Lacy said after the event. "Obviously it is where the economy is going, and it takes advantage of our assets. ... We're young, we're well-educated, and I think the important thing that cities have to do is understand what they are good at and play toward that."

State Rep. Robbie Wills, D-Conway, who will be speaker of the House during the 2009 session of the Arkansas Legislature, said Hewlett-Packard's announcement validates the development corporation's decision to develop the Meadows.

"Conway Development Corp. had made a commitment to the community by buying the property and putting in the infrastructure at the Meadows," Wills said.

The office and technology park was an incentive few other cities vying for Hewlett-Packard could match, Will said. However, other factors in Conway, such as the opening of new upscale restaurants and the city's three colleges, also played a major role in helping the city land Hewlett-Packard, Wills said.

Beebe said he learned that Hewlett-Packard would locate in Conway at the same time Verizon announced it would purchase Alltel Corp. of Little Rock.

Beebe said that the new Hewlett-Packard facility might be a possible employer for Alltel employees uncertain about their jobs, though he would not speculate about whom Hewlett-Packard would hire for the facility.

"I will tell you this, they made the decision and we found out about it simultaneously with the Alltel announcement," Beebe said.

"I think common sense would tell you that any of those people at Alltel who have those high levels of education and qualifications would certainly be potentially good employees if they changed jobs," Beebe said.



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