Oxford American Publisher Warwick Sabin to Lead Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub

by Mark Carter  on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 2:23 pm  

Warwick Sabin, inside the new South on Main restaurant in Little Rock. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

Warwick Sabin, publisher of the Oxford American magazine, announced Thursday that he has been named executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, a new nonprofit that's developing the Argenta Innovation Center in downtown North Little Rock.

Sabin, who represents parts of downtown and midtown Little Rock in the Arkansas House of Representatives, will begin his new job on Sept. 1.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to establish a new collaborative regional approach to promoting entrepreneurial business development in Central Arkansas," Sabin said in a statement released on his Facebook page. "The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub will bring together corporate leaders, educators, nonprofit foundations, and local, state, and federal governments in a focused effort to assist startup ventures and prepare the workforce for the jobs that will follow. This is a comprehensive, cooperative, and practical way to achieve our potential as a region."

The first phase of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub will be the Argenta Innovation Center, a 15,000-SF space at the corner of West Fourth and Poplar streets that will include the Silver Mine co-working space and the Fab Lab technology space. The existing Art Connection youth arts/entrepreneurship program is already up and running there.

"Central Arkansas has the talent, amenities, and resources to support the development of cutting-edge new businesses," Sabin said. "But we need to work together -- as cities, counties, colleges and universities, school districts, corporations, chambers of commerce -- with the recognition that everyone has something to contribute to this effort and everyone has something to gain from its success.

"This is our chance to synthesize our assets and grow our regional economy from the grass roots in a way that is sustainable and real," he said.

Sabin's last day at Oxford American will be Aug. 31, but he told Arkansas Business that he will be available to the magazine "on an unlimited basis to ensure a smooth transition."

The literary magazine was founded in 1992 in Oxford, Miss., and later moved to Arkansas. The monthly publication explores Southern literature, music, art, cuisine and film. Typical circulation is between 35,000 and 38,000, though the music issue sells about 55,000 copies. When Sabin became publisher in 2008, the magazine had a circulation of about 15,000.  

As publisher, Sabin helped put the magazine back on solid financial footing after years of on- and off-again publishing. In 2012, he replaced founding editor Marc Smirnoff with Roger Hodge, who was editor of Harper's Magazine in New York from 2006 to 2010.

A Democrat, he was elected to the state House in 2012.



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