Orbea of Mallabia, Spain, on Thursday celebrated its new North American headquarters at The Works at Rockwater at 700 W. Broadway St. in North Little Rock.
The international bicycle manufacturer, which opened its current 3,500-SF headquarters in 2013 at 119 Main St. in Little Rock, aims to complete its move north of the river by mid- or late July. It's designed to provide additional warehouse and office space for the company, whose CEO, Jon Fernández, expects business to double over the next few years.
Orbea will be the anchor tenant for The Works, leasing 26,000 SF of a building formerly occupied by Superior Spring Parts. Lisa Ferrell, president and CEO of Rockwater Village, which controls the The Works, said the renovation of the facility will cost more than $2 million. Another 7,200 SF will be available to lease after Orbea moves in.
The site is particularly ideal for Orbea, because it sits near the Arkansas River Trail, which is popular among cyclists and considered a key tourism draw by economic developers.
Fernández said the new facility puts the company close to its market. Right now, the company has 14 Arkansas workers and aims to hire more, although Fernández didn't know yet how many.
"This is not the beginning; this is only one step," Fernández said during Thursday's event.
Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said younger generations are looking for quality of life when they make decisions about where to live, and cycling contributes to that.
"This is the perfect example of where want to go in the state, having an international company like Orbea located right here in North Little Rock with their North American headquarters, and producing these very high-end bikes and selling them all over North America," he said.
North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith and Joe Jacobs of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department said partnerships were important in making this project a reality.
"It ends the speculation that the revitalization of downtown North Little Rock does not work," Smith said. "It ends that speculation. It is working. It has worked."
Jacobs said tourism is the second biggest economic driver in the state and cycling is its fastest growing sector.
Orbea opened its Main Street Little Rock showroom as a joint venture with Spokes, an Orbea dealer that has a dealership at at 1001 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Little Rock. Spokes, which runs a coffee shop inside the Main Street showroom, will not renew its Main Street lease.