One aspect of jump-starting the rejuvenation of Fort Smith lies in the city’s efforts to spur development along the Arkansas River as well as the downtown area.
A notable initiative was taken by local businessman Steve Clark, the founder of ProPak Logistics. Clark purchased the historic Friedman-Mincer Building on Garrison Avenue and is in the midst of a renovation of the three-story building to serve as his company’s headquarters.
Clark said the entire endeavor will cost about $2 million and he hopes to have the building ready for use by the end of the year. Clark said his 40 employees will occupy the top two stories while the ground floor will have a retail use.
His decision to move downtown was in part because he knew someone, some company, had to step up and do it.
“That was the nature of the conversation we had internally,” Clark said. “It’s one thing to stand on the balcony and shout what should be done. The downtown area is the heartbeat of the city.”
Richard Griffin, the chairman of the Central Business Improvement District, said ProPak’s move downtown is a “good sign” and that the area is on the upward swing. He said another positive addition was the opening of a convenience store at the corner of Fifth and Garrison.
Griffin said the downtown area is growing in popularity for residents but there were few places for them to shop. “You could buy a quart of whiskey but you couldn’t buy a quart of milk,” he said.