by Max Brantley
A reader forwarded to us a letter circulated by the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce seeking interest on the part of private businesses in a new State Fair location near the Pulask-Lonoke county line.
Does that mean the selection process is over but for the matter of finding a substantial sum to build the new fairgrounds, currently on Roosevelt Road in Little Rock?
The Arkansas State Fair has indeed hired a marketing firm to do an economic and feasibility study, with a focus on what it would cost to move the fair to land northeast of North Little Rock. Markin Consulting, a Maple Grove, Minn. firm, is polling businesses about their interest in using a new site.
Ralph Shoptaw, president and general manager of the Arkansas Livestock Show Association, said that Markin was hired to look at possible locations inside the I-440/I-40 "box," all land north of the Arkansas River. Jacksonville — which submitted one of the 16 proposals for a new State Fair site last year — has offered to donate 450 acres for the project if the fairgrounds will relocate there. The northern boundary of the property is Wooten Road, with the western boundary on 440. Asked if the offer puts Jacksonville at the top of the list of potential locations, Shoptaw said: "I can't say that. All I can say is that it's in the mix. It's in that area that we're looking at... Because Jacksonville has offered to give us that land out there, we wanted to look at the entire area. " North Little Rock has suggested land off Interstate 40 east of that city.
Shoptaw said that the feasibility study should help officials decide whether a move or not is possible, "When the numbers come back, we may not be able to afford to move, but we're doing our due-diligence to see if we can afford to." While he wouldn't say that restoring the fairgrounds on Roosevelt Road in Little Rock and remaining there is off the table, he did say that the State Fair is "landlocked" in its current location, with only 96 acres of land. The average sized State Fairgrounds nationwide, Shoptaw said, is 366 acres.
— David Koon
LETTER FROM NLR CHAMBER
The Arkansas State Fair Board has engaged a professional consultant to conduct a market and financial feasibility study for moving the Fairgrounds to a site east of the core Little Rock area, near the Pulaski/Lonoke County border. Markin Consulting is conducting an assessment of the need for larger event facilities at the proposed site that may accommodate local meetings, seminars and banquets.
Markin Consulting is currently identifying potential users of event facilities and gathering information about their specific facility needs. In particular, Markin Consulting would like to get feedback from Greater Little Rock area businesses about any needs that they have for off-site facilities to host meetings, seminars, training, trade shows, banquets or other activities - particularly as it relates to the proposed site.
I believe this study to be very important to our entire business community and would appreciate you taking time to complete a very short, on-line survey form for this study. Please click on the following web link to complete the survey:
If you have any questions about this survey, please call Rod Markin with Markin Consulting at 763-493-3568.
Thanks for your support and participation.
President and Chief Executive Officer
North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce