The creation of a Neighborhood Housing Committee by members of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board is a positive step that will give neighbors input into the park’s site selection, UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson said Thursday.
He offered the university’s resources to help organize a series of neighborhood meetings by the new panel, created earlier in the week by the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board.
“Our goal, through the involvement of the UALR Institute of Government and the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity, is to provide information on best practices derived from experience in other cities and to work toward trust among stakeholders here in Little Rock through informed and unhurried discussion of all aspects of urban tech parks,” the chancellor said.
“I believe that if we proceed carefully, the Technology Park will be a significant asset in our city’s future – one that provides us an unprecedented opportunity to link local research, economic development, new jobs, and community revitalization for the benefit of us all.”
Dr. Anderson has asked the UALR Institute of Government to provide a short report on tech park site location best practices from examples across the country.
The region’s first technology park is sponsored by the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, City of Little Rock, UALR, and UAMS. The ANGLE Technology group, hired in 2008 to do a research park study for the region, identified three proposed locations for the park. These locations have come under fire by some residents in the affected neighborhoods who don’t want to sell their homes to make way for the park.
Chancellor Anderson said the debate over the technology park brought to the surface tensions over historic inequalities in Little Rock, particularly in city investment, income, and segregated housing patterns. UALR has a long history of working with the community to tackle difficult issues head-on – issues like racial and ethnic inequality.
Anderson and UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn urged the board at the May 16 meeting to create a neighborhood committee to receive input from representatives from neighbors and other interested parties during the entire process.
They suggested that the board be receptive to input from representatives from the neighborhoods and other interested parties during the entire process. Anderson said that the delivery of clear and detailed information from the board to the community is essential for a smooth transition once a site is chosen.
Chancellor Anderson also urged members of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board to consider other potential sites for the research park, in addition to those already proposed.
“If you try to develop a tech park in the wrong place, it will fail,” he said at the May 16 meeting. “As a city we cannot afford to invest millions of dollars in a tech park in the wrong place. The people of this city are depending on this board to make a wise site selection.”
The new neighborhood committee will include representatives from the Fair Park Residents Association, Forest Hills Residents Association, Better Community Developers, City of Little Rock, UAMS, UALR, Habitat for Humanity, and Little Rock Housing Authority. Chairman Mary Good named authority members C.J. Duvall and Jay Chesshir to chair the new panel.
All meetings will be open to the public.