Southwest Power Pool Starts Work on New $62 Million Little Rock Campus

Work is already underway on Southwest Power Pool's new west Little Rock corporate campus, but the ground was officially broken Thursday morning on what Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce  chairman Barbara Graves called a "high voltage day."

SPP is building a $62 million campus at 16100 Pride Valley, off Kanis Road, that will serve as its corporate headquarters. The campus will entail a 36,000-SF real-time data and operations center and a 150,000-SF office building.

Construction is expected to be completed in 2012. The contractor for the project is Nabholz Construction of Conway. The Witsell Evans Rasco firm of Little Rock is the architect.

SPP's current operations are spread over three locations in Pulaski County. The new corporate campus will allow the nonprofit, electric-utility cooperative to consolidate two of its Little Rock offices. Those offices currently are located in the Plaza West building at McKinley and Father Tribou streets in midtown Little Rock and off Chenal Parkway in west Little Rock, not far from the new campus site.

Its 20,000-SF operations center at 1300 Murphy Drive in Maumelle will remain in use as a backup.
The new campus will enable SPP to expand by about 200 jobs through 2012, raising its total workforce to roughly 650. The new positions will draw an average annual salary of $82,000, more than twice the state's median household income.

City and state officials, including Gov. Mike Beebe, made up part of the roughly 50 people on hand for the ceremony. SPP, which Beebe called the "air traffic control of electricity," regulates 56 utilities in nine states. It considered moving its new corporate headquarters out of Arkansas before state officials jumped in to help entice it to stay in Little Rock.

"Our mission was to make sure Southwest Power Pool stayed in Arkansas, stayed in Little Rock," Beebe said, who called the groundbreaking a win-win for both the state and SPP.

Graves said the land on which the site rests was annexed into the city and zoned for commercial use in order to meet SPP's needs. She added that the city would solicit further commercial development along Pride Valley.