Yes, that was Little Rock Chamber director Jay Chesshir hinting at an ARK Challenge relocation to Little Rock at the latest Little Rock tech park board meeting.
For those not familiar, Little Rock civic leaders proposed a tech park back in 2009. City voters ultimately approved a sales tax initiative that included millions for its development. Two years later, the city still hasn’t figured out where the proposed 30-acre site would go.
At the latest meeting of the tech park board, Chesshir floated the idea of something like the successful ARK Challenge, if not the ARK itself, for Little Rock.
He believes an accelerator like the ARK would be good for Little Rock, thinks it could complement a tech park, and with potential investors is looking for space that could house it.
“I used the ARK project as an example of why we need to create this type of accelerator space NOW,” he said via email Thursday afternoon. “If there is an opportunity to host an ARK Challenge here, it would be an added boost to the utilization of the space.”
For the record, the ARK’s federally funded run is over after its current boot camp is completed and those behind it would like to see it continue on in some form. We think it’s a safe bet that it’ll continue, and had assumed it would stay put in NWA where it’s thrived.
But if civic leaders in Little Rock start making pitches and dangling carrots….hmmmm.
We’ll have more in this space soon, including a list of the firms selected to compete in the ARK’s second run, which currently is underway. (We can’t release the names ’til all the contracts are signed and received, we’re told.) Should be next week.
What do you think, central Arkansas techpreneurs? Could the ARK be just as successful in The Rock? Will Fedvul fight for its right to incubate? Stay tuned….