The Little Rock Tech Park is the physical embodiment of the commitment by central Arkansas leaders to recognize technology and research as an economic driver, says executive director Brent Birch. Its development along a rejuvenated Main Street corridor in downtown Little Rock has helped infuse not only a jolt of energy into the heart of the city but a cluster of research commercialization leading to high-paying jobs.
More than 40 tech startups, many of them working to commercialize projects borne from local research institutions, now call the park home. The park’s phase 1 focused on renovation of two 100-year-old buildings and was completed in 2017. Phase 2, currently underway, is adding wet/dry lab space to accommodate research activities as well as increase the park’s ability to attract and retain biomed and nanotech companies.
Created through legislation passed by the 2007 Arkansas General Assembly, the tech park opened for business in 2010 and is sponsored by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences/Arkansas Children’s and the city of Little Rock. Birch says park sponsors are seeing significant and growing research activity, which will provide opportunities for commercialization and new business ventures, and the new lab space will be critical to that development.
Phase 3 of the tech park will expand office and meeting space; phase 4 will add an 800-car parking deck, more office space and new retail space, and phases 5 and 6 are scheduled to address future office, meeting and lab needs.