by Max Brantley
Mayor Mark Stodola's push to get Pulaski Tech to build downtown a new building for culinary and hospitality school students has set off a metropolitan area contest. The City Board was chastised a few days ago by a Southwest Little Rock legislator, Pam Adcock, for trying to move the facility away from its planned location at the existing Pulaski Tech South campus on Interstate 30 near the Saline County line.
Now comes the Bryant Chamber of Commerce, with a letter to Pulaski Tech opposing a relocation from that location near Bryant.
The Pulaski Tech Board will discuss the idea again with the mayor next week (2:30 p.m. Thursday, special meeting of the board at the NLR campus). No solution has yet emerged for a gap of up to $5 million in extra costs that could be incurred by moving the school to Sixth and Main Street, as the mayor has proposed. The city has offered a small parcel of land and free parking and kitchen equipment discounts to improve the proposal, but no significant additions to the $15 million Tech has set aside for the project from a bond issue.
Bryant's objections to the move follow:
The Bryant Area Chamber Board of Directors is aware that there is a proposition before you to move some of the Culinary School’s operations to Little Rock.
The Bryant Area has been extremely blessed by the presence of the Culinary School nearby. We have, as an organization, engaged the culinary school’s services for our events and been well pleased. But beyond our own reasons, we are happy the school is nearby for the reputation it brings to the area, the education it offers our citizens and the convenience it offers your students.
While we would be dismayed to learn of losing the culinary offerings at the South Campus location, we are keenly aware of your great facility’s ability to attract other programs. We would be delighted to hear more about your future plans.
Before you make a decision to move the culinary school, however, be aware of these developments
* Bryant now has over 60 restaurants and food service businesses.
* Benton is in the process of beginning to build its recently approved event center
* Bryant is letting bid early next year on the Raymar Road north expansion (close to the South Campus) where we expect major development to follow.
* At least two major chain restaurants are looking at land in Bryant.
* Bryant now hosts 7 hotels, most built in the past 6 years.
We are continually impressed with Pulaski Technical College and your foresight and planning.
We hope that your future both in Pulaski North and South is bright.
President, Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce