Museum of Discovery out of Argenta project | Arkansas Blog

Museum of Discovery out of Argenta project

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The announcement this morning of the Argenta Innovation Center was missing a piece: The Museum of Discovery, which was to run the Fab Lab (the maker space), has pulled out.

Mayor Stodola had directed MOD Director Kelley Bass' attention to the fact that the city of Little Rock has been able to provide the museum $400,000 a year since the penny sales tax increase and $2.6 million, he said, over the past six years as a match to the millions of dollars the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has poured into the museum. The mayor also noted the museum has made a request for $56,000 in repairs.

Stodola says he did not tell Bass that the city would yank its annual funding for the museum should it expand into North Little Rock, though it was widely rumored that he had. Stodola said he did express the idea "that people in the city of Little Rock, having been the foundation for this museum for lo these many years, would be disappointed" should the museum expand into North Little Rock rather than Little Rock. Besides, Stodola said, it's up to the city board, not him, to decide on city funding for the museum.

"I just indicated to [Bass] that we wanted a chance to work with them," Stodola said, to find suitable space in downtown Little Rock for what he called a "maker box." The mayor said he'd like the maker space — a place where activities that museum visitors did during Tinkerfest would be daily — to be adjacent to a business incubator space. The idea for the incubator space has gotten steam thanks to Northwest Arkansas's Ark Challenge for tech startups.

Bass said the museum is embarking on some capital projects and that, on second thought, now was not the time to take on the Fab Lab in North Little Rock. He said he'd "welcome the chance" to talk to the mayor on finding a building in Little Rock in which to put a maker space. (Full disclosure: Bass is Max's brother-in-law. He was not the source for this post.)

Noted: The news follows by four days the filing of "emergency" ordinances by the city of Little Rock to clean up its long-flawed and unconstituional effort to subsidize Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. The ordinances include $100,000 for a regional alliance aimed at job creation throughout the metropolitan area. That ordinance said:

It was determined that while a particular business may not wish to locate within the corporate limits of the City, that the City benefits from its location in Central Arkansas.

Not if the business development enterprise is in North Little Rock, apparently.

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