Little Rock: Economy

views updated May 14 2018

Little Rock: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

As the largest city in a primarily rural and agricultural state, Little Rock is the center of economic activity in Arkansas. For decades, cotton and then rice, soybeans, and other crops were the area's main source of income. Their cultivation and distribution monopolized the labor pool and available capital and made it virtually impossible for industry to gain a foothold, even in Little Rock. During the 1950s and 1960s, however, the Arkansas Industrial Development Corp., headed by Winthrop Rockefeller, who later served as governor, began an aggressive campaign to attract manufacturers to the state. Although few firms established large operations, hundreds of companies moved in and set up small factories employing fewer than 1,000 people.

Local, state, and federal government have been Little Rock's major employers for many years. Medical facilities, banks, and other service industries are also important to the economy, and their presence has in turn attracted to the area other companies that offer a variety of support services, especially those that are computer-related.

Revitalization of downtown Little Rock has fueled its attraction to major corporations in a variety of industries, particularly manufacturing, transportation, and service. The city manager's office reports that Little Rock was one of the nation's 15 most aggressive development markets in the early part of the new century; it has doubled in the past 20 years and is expected to double again over the next 20 years.

Aviation is among the most dynamic industries in Little Rock. Aircraft and spacecraft are Arkansas' largest export, the revenue of which has grown from $35 million in 2000 to $441 million in 2002, according to the Arkansas Department of Economic Development. In Little Rock itself, several aircraft companies bolster the local economy. Central Flying Service Inc. is one of the nation's largest fixed-base operations, and Dassault Aviation SA's primary service and completion center for its Falcon jets is located in Little Rock. Additionally, Raytheon Aircraft announced in 2002 an expansion of its Little Rock plant, which will add 350 new jobs over five years.

Biotechnology is an emerging industry in Little Rock. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is the cornerstone for medical biotechnology research in Arkansas. The facility not only conducts research and development, it offers a business incubator program to support start-up biotechnology companies. Moreover, the stock of Cytomedix Inc., which manufactures wound-healing therapy in Little Rock, more than doubled in the year 2004 to $2.55 per share.

Agriculture maintains a firm hold on the economy of Little Rock and Arkansas as a whole. About one-fourth of all jobs in the state involve agriculture to some degree. Soybeans, rice, timber, and poultry continue to be the primary agricultural enterprises in the state.

Because of its strategic location, Little Rock has long served as a center for trade. The Little Rock Port Industrial Park offers some of the finest facilities on the Arkansas River, enabling the city to promote itself not only as a distribution center for the state's agricultural products, but also for its increasing number of manufactured goods.

Items and goods produced: Metals, soybeans, rice, chemicals, textiles, paper products, timber, and aircraft

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The basic method of financing new and expanding industry in the region is through the use of Act 9 Industrial Revenue Bonds issued at the municipal and county levels. Up to $6 million of an Act 9 issue can be guaranteed under state insurance guarantee programs.

State programs

The Arkansas Science and Technology Authority, located in Little Rock, was established in 1983 to promote scientific research, technology development, and business innovation in the state. To this end, it provides financial support for the transfer and development of innovative technology to an enterprise based in Arkansas. The Authority currently offers three programs: the Applied Research Grant Program, the Seed Capital Investment Program, and the Technology Development Program.

The Small Business Loan Program was founded in 1999 to stimulate economic growth by providing up to 50 percent of a small business loan to qualified applicants. This financing, administered by the Arkansas Department of Economic Development, can be used as working capital, to purchase machinery and equipment, and to construct or renovate commercial real estate.

There are several special industrial location incentives offered by the State of Arkansas. Two of the major programs are the Arkansas Enterprise Zone Program and Arkansas Workers' Compensation, legislation passed in 1993 that makes workers' compensation insurance more affordable for employers. The Chamber of Commerce has information about the many other incentives offered by the state of Arkansas, which include corporate income tax credits, sales and use tax refunds, and the payment in lieu of taxes program.

Job training programs

The Business and Industry Training Program sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Economic Development designs customized training programs to meet the specific needs of particular industries. Its emphasis is three-fold: recruiting workers, pre-employment training, and on-the-job training.

Development Projects

Eleven counties, including Pulaski, united in 2003 to form the Central Arkansas Economic Development Alliance (CAEDA) to promote the region as an attractive location to new businesses. Funded by both private-sector companies and individual economic development agencies, CAEDA markets the region's workforce, low cost of doing business, central U.S. location, and transportation infrastructure.

Commercial development was also boosted by the passage of Arkansas' Tax Increment Financing (TIF) law in 2004. This tax incentive tool enables local governments to develop and improve infrastructure using future tax dollars instead of relying solely on funding by private developers. Intended to bolster the redevelopment of blighted areas, TIF has been embraced by even the most economically vibrant cities throughout the state.

In early 2002 Pulaski County received the long-sought designation as an Urban Empowerment Zone by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a program that extends through 2009, this designation will entitle Pulaski County to a portion of the $17- to $22-billion national package to foster growth and revitalization in distressed communities.

The efforts have already produced results in Little Rock, as evidenced by the establishment or expansion of large-scale business in the early 2000s. In late 2003 ground was broken in the River Market District for a new International Center for Heifer International, an organization that assists small-scale farmers worldwide in an effort to combat hunger, alleviate poverty, and restore the environment. The $23 million First Security Center is a 14-story building occupied by First Security Bank, a 120-room hotel by Marriott Courtyard, as well as luxury condominiums. Raytheon Aircraft announced in 2002 the expansion of its plant in Little Rock, adding 350 jobs to the area. In a $6 billion deal that will add 4,000 new employees and make it the nation's fifth-largest wireless company, ALLTEL Corp. announced its acquisition of Western Wireless Corp. in January 2005.

Economic Development Information: Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, 1 Chamber Plaza, Little Rock, AR 72201; telephone (501)374-2001; email chamber@littlerock chamber. Arkansas Department of Economic Development, One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201; telephone (501)682-1121; toll-free 1-800-ARKANSAS; fax (501)682-7394; email [email protected]

Commercial Shipping

With its central location and accessibility to the Arkansas River, Little Rock is one of the major transportation centers of the South. The city's main asset is its port. The development of the Arkansas River into a year-round barge navigation route has meant that a city as far west as Tulsa, Oklahoma has access to the Mississippi River, which in turn provides access to global markets through the international port at New Orleans, Louisiana. Consequently, a variety of products pass through the port, including forest products, bagged goods, steel coils and pipes, aluminum products, and such bulk products as rice, clay, bauxite, rock, fertilizer, and cement. Little Rock Port Terminal has a cargo lift capacity of 50 tons and bulk handling capacity of 200 tons/hour inbound and 350 tons/hour outbound. It also offers 157,000 square feet of warehouse space and 45,000 square feet of outside storage area.

The Little Rock Port Authority Railroad, operating on 12.2 miles of track, connects with the Union Pacific Railroad and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Each year it switches approximately 5,500 railroad cars, and services 60 percent of all cargo handled through the river terminal.

Little Rock Port Industrial Park is designated as a Foreign Trade Zone, enabling goods to be stored or processed without payment of customs duty until they are moved out of the zone and into normal domestic channels. Services in the Foreign Trade Zone are offered through 14 contract carrier barge lines, and include barge, rail, and truck terminals, as well as warehouse space and material handling equipment. Little Rock is also a U.S. Customs Port of Entry for both freight and passengers.

More than 60 franchised motor carriers in the metropolitan area provide regular service to points in each of the 48 contiguous states; ten major cities are within a day's drive. Air freight service, ranging from small package expediting to international freight forwarding, is readily available at Little Rock National Airport, where airlines and air cargo carriers processed more than 19 million pounds of freight and 14 million pounds of mail in 2001.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The civilian labor force in the Little Rock area is drawn from four counties. Arkansas has been a right-to-work state since 1944, and state law makes violence in connection with a labor dispute a felony. According to The New York Times, state and local economic development efforts, including tax incentives promoting international trade and improved job training, have helped the area to outpace neighboring states in terms of growth in employment, growth in manufacturing jobs, and income growth in recent years.

Two of the fastest growing industries for employment in Arkansas are agriculture and trucking. About one-fourth of all jobs in the state revolve around agriculture or agriculture-related processing, and the Arkansas Department of Economic Development predicts a future shortage of qualified work force in that area. Likewise, truckingthe state's fifth-largest industryis expected to experience an increase of available jobs through 2010. Some of the nation's largest trucking companies are headquartered in Arkansas and operate throughout the state. In addition, corporations that own and operate private fleets expect to be seeking truck drivers and related personnel. Little Rock is home to two such companies, Entergy Inc. and Quality Foods Inc.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Little Rock-North Little Rock metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 317,100

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 17,100

manufacturing: 24,700

trade, transportation, and utilities: 67,000

information: 9,400

financial activities: 19,400

professional and business services: 39,600

educational and health services: 40,700

leisure and hospitality: 24,600

other services: 12,000

government: 62,700

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.81

Unemployment rate: 4.3% (November 2004)

Major employersNumber of employees
State of Arkansas28,100
Federal Government9,400
Pulaski County Public School Districts8,868
Baptist Health7,000
Little Rock Air Force Base5,445
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences5,392
Ryerson-Tull AFCO Metals5,051
St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center4,200
ALLTEL Corp.4,000
Timex Corp.3,873

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Little Rock area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 92.1 (U.S. average = 100.0)

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $204,003

State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% on the first $2,999 of net taxable income to 7.0% on amounts over $25,000

State sales tax rate: 6%

County sales tax rate: 0.0051%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 0.005%

Property tax rate: $69 per $1000 of assessed valuation (2001) (assessed valuation = 20% of market value)

Economic Information: Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, 1 Chamber Plaza, Little Rock, AR 72201; telephone (501)374-2001; email chamber@littlerockchamber. Arkansas Department of Economic Development, One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201; telephone (501)682-1121; toll-free 1-800-ARKANSAS; fax (501)682-7394; email [email protected]

Little Rock: Recreation

views updated May 11 2018

Little Rock: Recreation


A good place to begin a tour of Little Rock is Riverfront Park, located directly on the riverfront in the center of the city. The park is the site of numerous fairs and festivals during the year, and it also offers the visitor a place to relax or stroll along the promenade and read about the area's early history in an open-air pavilion. The "little rock," or Le Petite Roche, that gave the city its name is visible at the north end of Rock Street, which is adjacent to Riverfront Park.

Within walking distance of Riverfront Park is the Old State House, the original Arkansas state capitol building. This antebellum Greek Revival structure now houses a museum of Arkansas history that features changing exhibits of Victorian decorative arts and costumes, six period rooms, and items of state historical interest.

Also within walking distance of the park is the Arkansas Territorial Restoration, a complex of more than a dozen antebellum buildings, some of which are on their original sites. Five homes (now museums) are of particular interest: Noland House, Woodruff House, Conway House, Hinderliter Tavern, and a log house.

Many fine examples of antebellum and Victorian architecture are also on display in the Quapaw Quarter, the oldest part of Little Rock. A number of the homes have been restored and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Some were built prior to the Civil War. The Villa Marre, a nineteenth century Italianate Victorian home decorated with period furnishings, was featured in the television series Designing Women (1986-1993). Visitors can drive or walk through this nine-square-mile area.

West of the downtown area is the Arkansas State Capitol, begun in 1899 and finished sixteen years later. The nation's only scaled replica of the National Capitol in Washington, D.C., it is made of white limestone and marble, and features a chandelier and six solid brass doors purchased from Tiffany's in New York City in 1908. South of downtown is the Governor's Mansion, a brick Georgian building completed in 1950 from materials gathered from older state properties. A double iron filigree gate taken from the Confederate Soldiers' Home opens onto a circular drive fronting the mansion, which is surrounded by eight acres of lawn and gardens.

The Little Rock Zoo offers visitors the opportunity to observe more than 725 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. The zoo's Children's Farm offers visitors a hands-on opportunity to interact with and learn about animals. The zoo participates in a variety of conservation efforts around the globe.

The Aerospace Education Center features aviation and aerospace exhibits, the state's only IMAX theater, and exhibits of American and Russian space exploration.

Little Rock Central High School was designated a National Historic Site in 1998. Located at the intersection of Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive and Park Street, the school commemorates the desegregation movement in the United States, particularly the nine African American students, known as the "Little Rock Nine," who were escorted into the school by federal troops in 1957. Across the street, a visitor's center is located in a former Mobil gasoline station.

Sightseeing Information: Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Markham and Broadway, PO Box 3232, Little Rock, AR 72203; telephone (501)376-4781; toll-free 1-800-844-4781

Arts and Culture

Robinson Center, located in the downtown area in Statehouse Plaza, is Little Rock's major performing arts facility. For more than forty years, major Broadway shows, musical events, and ballets have been staged at Robinson Center. It is also the home of Ballet Arkansas, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, and Celebrity Attractions, a professional organization that offers a subscription season from September through May.

The Arkansas Arts Center is also an important location on the Little Rock arts scene. Based at the center is the Children's Theatre, where live performances are staged and where young people can receive theater training. The Arts Center houses six permanent galleries, a museum gift shop, and a restaurant. Classes in painting, drawing, photography, and dance are also offered.

Other theatrical organizations in Little Rock are the Arkansas Repertory Theater, which brings eight professional shows to town from September through June; Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts, which offers opera, cabaret, chamber performances and festivals throughout the year; and Murry's Dinner Playhouse, presenting popular plays year-round.

Little Rock's museums and galleries offer visitors a view of Arkansas history and native crafts. At the Museum of Discovery, an interactive children's museum, visitors can learn about the region's first inhabitants, the Arkansas Indians; they can also explore the Worlds of the Forests, take a journey through science, or even build a robot. This museum is located in the River Market District's Museum Center, which was redesigned in 1998 to include several restaurants.

The Historic Arkansas Museum is the state's largest historic museum, and houses paintings, textiles, glassware, and other objects created by Arkansas artists over the past 200 years. Other historical museums are the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History; the Old State House Museum; and Ernie's Museum of Black Arkansans, the state's first African American history museum.

Elsewhere in the city is the Decorative Arts Museum, which houses exhibits of contemporary and historic objects, including ceramics, glass, textiles, crafts, and Oriental works of art.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock features a fine arts museum and a planetarium that are open to the public. The museum has changing exhibits of paintings, sculpture, graphics, arts and crafts, and photography, while the planetarium stages shows that cover astronomy, history, and science fiction.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Center opened its doors in November 2004. This $165-million center, the 11th in the Presidential Library system, is an archive, library, and museum housing millions of documents and artifacts relating to his administration. Sitting on 26 acres of park alongside the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock, the center is also Clinton's post-presidency office, and is expected to serve as a gathering place for world leaders.

Arts and Culture Information: Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Markham and Broadway, PO Box 3232, Little Rock, AR 72203; telephone (501)376-4781; toll-free 1-800-844-4781. William J. Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, AR 72201

Festivals and Holidays

Riverfest, celebrated in Riverfront Park every Memorial Day weekend, is Little Rock's biggest annual event. More than 225,000 people attended the festivities in 2004, walking through the park, sampling ethnic foods, and admiring the arts and crafts on display. There are also performances by musicians, including major stars, along with impromptu shows by jugglers, mimes, and magicians.

Also important to Little Rock is the Arkansas State Fair, held for eleven days in late September through early October. Attended by 400,000 visitors, it features typical state fair events such as livestock judging and auctions, home arts competitions, rodeos, musical performances, motor sports, talent contests, and carnival rides, games, and amusements.

Martin Luther King Jr. is honored every January with a parade, as is St. Patrick in March. The Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour of Historic Homes takes place each May, the same month that offers the Annual Territorial Fair at Historic Arkansas Museum, the Greek Food Festival, and the Annual Jamfest Heritage Festival. Music dominates the scene during June's Wildwood Festival of Music and Arts and the July 4th Pops on the River, an event of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Each year the Museum of Discovery sponsors the Dino Dash and Discovery Fest. The city hosts the Arkansas Arts Crafts & Design Fair in November. December features an annual Christmas Frolic and Open House at Historic Arkansas Museum.

Festivals Information: Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Markham and Broadway, PO Box 3232, Little Rock, AR 72203; telephone (501)376-4781; toll-free 1-800-844-4781

Sports for the Spectator

North Little Rock's ALLTEL Arena, an $80 million facility, opened with an Arkansas RiverBlades ice hockey game on October 28, 1999. ALLTEL Arena is also home to the University of Arkansas basketball team as well as the Arkansas Rim-Rockers, the state's first professional basketball team, which was born into the American Basketball Association in January 2004.

Also in North Little Rock, construction is expected to begin in 2005 on an 11-acre ballpark stadium and complex for the Arkansas Travelers, a farm club of baseball's St. Louis Cardinals, who play from April to August.

Sports for the Participant

Located as it is on the Arkansas River, Little Rock offers anglers some of the best fishing of any city in America. Not far from the metropolitan area are many lakes, streams, and several state and national parks that also attract fans of sailing and other water sports.

For those who prefer to stay within the city, Little Rock has 56 public parks and nearly 200 recreation facilities, some featuring such amenities as swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, golf courses, and softball fields. Little Rock's best-known park is Riverfront Park, which boasts an amphitheater on the riverbank and an open-air pavilion as well as fountains and tree-lined walkways. War Memorial Park, one of the city's oldest, features a zoo, a fitness center, the 8,000-seat Ray Winder Field, and the 53,000-seat War Memorial Stadium.

Shopping and Dining

No single area in Little Rock is the main shopping district; centers are scattered throughout the city. The River Market District offers a Farmer's Market plus restaurants and groceries in a scenic setting on the Arkansas River. Two of the area's largest shopping centers, Park Plaza and University Mall, are located in trendy West Little Rock, where the area's newest shops and restaurants are springing up. McCain Mall, the largest shopping center in the state, is across the Arkansas River in neighboring North Little Rock.

The offerings of Little Rock's more than 300 restaurants range from down-home southern cooking (including ribs) to continental-style haute cuisine. Seafood and catfish abound at restaurants along the river, and ethnic specialties are available at a number of establishments in the metropolitan area.

Visitor Information: Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Markham and Broadway, PO Box 3232, Little Rock, AR 72203; telephone (501)376-4781; toll-free 1-800-844-4781

Little Rock: History

views updated May 18 2018

Little Rock: History

Little Rock Named Territorial Capitol

The earliest inhabitants of the area that is now Little Rock were Stone Age people whodespite their lack of sophisticated tools, wagons, and domesticated animalsconstructed huge earthen mounds that are still in existence. (Some of the most significant ones in the state are located just a short distance down the Arkansas River from Little Rock.) Used as public meeting places, living quarters, and burial chambers, these mounds have yielded numerous examples of pottery and other artifacts. Historians believe that the mound-builders' culture was eventually absorbed into that of more advanced and aggressive invaders.

In 1541, when Spain's Hernando de Soto became the first European to explore the territory, he and his party encountered a group of Indians who called themselves Quapaws or "downstream" people, a reference to the fact that they had migrated down the Mississippi River from Sioux lands in Missouri. It was estimated that approximately 7,000 Quapaws were then scattered throughout the region; by the time the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle claimed it as part of the Louisiana Territory in 1682, this number had dwindled to about 1,300 people, primarily due to disease and war.

The naming of Little Rock is said to have occurred in 1722 when another French explorer, Bernard de la Harpe, was leading a party up the Arkansas River from New Orleans and came upon two rock outcroppings, one large, one small, on opposite sides of the river. Local Indians had long used both rocks as landmarks; de la Harpe presumably decided on the name "little rock" as a means of distinguishing the smaller outcropping from the larger bluff upstream, which he christened "French Rock."

Throughout the years when control of the region alternated between the Spanish and the French, few permanent settlements were established. Thus, at the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Arkansas was virtually uninhabited. Once the territory became part of the United States, however, increasing numbers of Americans were willing to move west of the Mississippi. The first white settler near the "little rock" is believed to have been William Lewis, a hunter. In July 1812 he built a small hut and planted a few pumpkin seeds so that he could file a homestead claim. In 1819 a land speculator from St. Louis named William Russell bought Lewis' claim, and by May 1820, he had staked out a town site. Later that same year, members of a rival faction laid out a second town site that they named Arkopolis. In 1821 Russell's Little Rock settlement was chosen as the capital of Arkansas Territory. When tensions between the two opposing groups touched off fears that the capital would be moved elsewhere, the speculators resolved their differences amicably, and the site was authoritatively named Little Rock.

Civil War Divides Citizens

Little Rock grew rather slowly after that, though remained a boisterous frontier village for many years; it was officially chartered in 1831 and reincorporated in 1835. The 1830s also marked the beginning of cotton cultivation on a major scale, and it soon became the area's chief cash crop. Little Rock saw its importance as a distribution center increase as southbound steamboats loaded with cotton bales passed northbound boats carrying clothing, tools, and molasses from New Orleans.

A slave state with a large rural population of small farmers, Arkansas was drawn into national politics when it seceded from the Union in 1861 and then began serving as a supply center for the Confederate Army. The state's sympathies were not entirely with the South, however; many citizens had opposed secession, particularly those in the northern counties. When Little Rock was captured in 1863 and made headquarters for Union troops, the occupation was exceptional in its orderliness and cordiality.

Conservatives Rule for a Century

The postwar Reconstruction period in Arkansas was marked by financial ruin and political upheaval. Attempts to create a northern-style industrial economy failed, largely because the demands placed on the agrarian society were too great. Furthermore, disagreements between Republican liberals (who controlled the state government through a system of executive patronage) and mostly Democratic conservatives crippled efforts to establish a more progressive regime. The conflict came to a head in 1874 with the so-called Brooks-Baxter War, when two rival politicians claimed the governorship of Arkansas. A legal battle ensued, and eventually the state constitution was rewritten to impose severe limits on the chief executive's power. Arkansas then entered a phase of conservative rule that endured for nearly a century.

After the turmoil of the Reconstruction period ended, Little Rock slowly began to broaden its economic base, especially in the areas of commerce and industry. The 1880s saw a great expansion in the state's railroad system, and the city's population soared to 25,874 people by 1890 (up from 12,000 people in 1870). During World War I, Little Rock became an army induction and training center with the opening of nearby Camp Pike, which was reactivated (as Camp Robinson) during World War II and again provided an influx of money and jobs in Little Rock.

In 1957 world attention was drawn to the Arkansas capital when Governor Orval E. Faubus and the Arkansas National Guard forcibly tried to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School. President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded by sending U.S. troops to the city with orders to enforce the integration and protect the students. The incident left its mark, however; business and industrial developers were reluctant to locate to an area linked so closely in the public's mind with racism and segregation.

The 1960s brought sweeping changes to the South, and today's Little Rock has for the most part abandoned the attitudes of the "Old South" to embrace a lifestyle compatible with that of the Sunbelt. The area's good climate and abundance of water and energy make it increasingly attractive to industry, and the 1970s and 1980s saw it recovering some of the ground it lost in earlier years, as evidenced by employment and industrial growth. In a state known as the "Land of Opportunity," Little Rock continues to be the centerpiece of progress and development.

A Presidential City

The election of progressive Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton to the U.S. presidency in 1992 placed a new focus on the city. The nation began associating Little Rock with the birthplace of its president rather than a center of racial strife. President Clinton facilitated this new focus, accepting the presidency on the steps of the Old State House in 1992, and celebrating his reelection in 1996 on its balcony. Even after his terms expired, he continued the momentum of this presidential connection. In November 2004 the William J. Clinton Presidential Center opened its doors, drawing the spotlight of national and international attention and tourism to Little Rock for years to come.

Historical Information: Arkansas History Commission, One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201; telephone (501)682-6900

Little Rock: Education and Research

views updated May 18 2018

Little Rock: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Little Rock School District provides education to students within the city boundaries, as well as to students who live outside the city who opt to transfer to one of the magnet or interdistrict schools. Local schools are recognized for their multicultural diversity and high academic standards. The McClellan High School business education program was named best in the nation during the 19951996 school year. Nearly two dozen magnet and incentive schools offer students focused academic programs in such disciplines as art, math/science, communications, and international studies.

In 2002, after more than 40 years of court-supervised desegregation monitoring, Little Rock was found to have met the terms of a 1998 plan to improve performance of minority students. Two years later, however, this ruling was reversed, citing inadequate measurement of such progress. Little Rock's efforts will remain under court supervision until at least 2006.

The following is a summary of data regarding Little Rock's public schools as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 25,491

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 34

junior high/middle schools: 8

senior high schools: 6

other: the Alternative Learning Center serves grades 6 through 12, and the Accelerated Learning Center provides education for students in grades 9 through 12

Student/teacher ratio: 14.6:1

Teacher salaries

average: $39,531 (20002001)

Funding per pupil: $7,189 (20002001)

A number of private and parochial schools also offer programs from pre-kindergarten through high school. In addition, the city is home to two special facilities, the Arkansas School for the Blind and the Arkansas School for the Deaf.

Public Schools Information: Little Rock School District, 810 W. Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72201; telephone (501)447-1000

Colleges and Universities

Little Rock has two universities and two colleges that offer a variety of two- and four-year programs as well as advanced study in such areas as medicine, engineering, law, and social work. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is by far the largest institution of higher learning in the city, enrolling more than 11,000 students. A branch of the main campus in Fayetteville, the Little Rock facility offers more than 90 degree programs ranging from associate to doctoral. Medicine, nursing, health-related professions, and pharmacy are taught on a separate campus in town, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The university's William H. Bowen School of Law is located within walking distance from the judicial hub of downtown Little Rock.

Philander Smith College is a private four-year liberal arts college that is the state's only institution affiliated with United Negro College Fund. Philander Smith was founded in 1877 and was one of the Southwest's first African American colleges.

Arkansas Baptist College, founded in 1884 as the Minister's Institute, offers degrees in social sciences, business administration, theology, and liberal arts.

Webster University, established in Little Rock in 1986, offers master's degrees in business administration, international business, management, computer resources management, health services management, and human resources development.

Little Rock area residents also attend institutions in neighboring communities, including the University of Central Arkansas, Central Baptist College, Hendrix College, Shorter College, and Pulaski Technical College.

Higher Education Information: University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2801 S. University Ave., Little Rock, AR 72204-1099; telephone (501)569-3000

Libraries and Research Centers

The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) serves Pulaski County and neighboring Perry County (with the exception of North Little Rock). In 1997 the main branch spent $12.5 million to renovate a warehouse, and relocated into the River Market District of downtown Little Rock. That same year, the Richard C. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies was established within CALS to promote the study of Arkansas history though online resources and lesson plans for teachers. Additionally, there are 11 branches throughout the area, housing a total of more than one-half million volumes.

Approximately two dozen special libraries also operate in Little Rock, most of them serving very specific medical or business needs. Other libraries offering specialized collections are the Arkansas Arts Center/Elizabeth Prewitt Taylor Memorial Library, which specializes in art, drama, and early American jazz; the Arkansas State University/Dean B. Ellis Library, which houses the Lois Lenski Collection, Arkansas Authors of Children's Books Collections, and the Cass S. Hough Aeronautical Collection; and the Arkansas Territorial Restoration Library, which features material on state and local history, decorative arts, conservation, and historic preservation.

The American Native Press Archives at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, established in 1983 as a clearing-house for information on American Indian and Alaska Native newspapers and periodicals, has evolved into one of the world's largest repositories of Native thought. A joint effort of the Department of English and the Ottenheimer Library, it now serves to collect and archive the products and materials of the Native press, to collect and document the works of Native writers, and to construct bibliographies of Native writing and publishing. The Archives, located in the Sequoyah Research Center, also serves as repository for the archives of the Native American Journalists Association and the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

In addition to the academic libraries of colleges and universities in the area, Little Rock is home to such special libraries as those operated by the Arkansas Geological Commission, the Arkansas History Commission and State Archives, and the Arkansas Supreme Court. It is also the seat of the Arkansas State Library, which serves as the information center for the state's libraries.

Library Information: Central Arkansas Library System, 100 Rock Street, Little Rock, AR 72201; telephone (501)918-3000

Little Rock: Transportation

views updated May 21 2018

Little Rock: Transportation

Approaching the City

The Little Rock National Airport is located within the city limits and is only three miles from downtown, thus making it one of the most convenient urban airports in the country. It is served by American Eagle, Comair, Continental Express, Delta, Delta Connection, Northwest, Northwest Airlink, Southwest, and US Airways Express. The airport handles about 2.1 million passengers each year and has facilities for private planes and corporate aircraft. Each day more than 120 flights arrive or depart, among them regional jets to and from Cincinnati, a service it launched in 1997. A parking deck was added in 2001, and a $3 million renovation of the baggage claim wing went underway in 2003.

For those approaching the city by car, access is made easy by the network of U.S. and state highways that intersect the metropolitan area. Additionally, five Interstate highways30, 40, 430, 440, and 630facilitate Little Rock travelers.

Amtrak provides daily passenger service from Little Rock's restored Union Station to Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio; connections to El Paso, Tucson, and Los Angeles are available three times a week. The city is also served by Greyhound buses.

Traveling in the City

Little Rock is laid out in a basic grid pattern with streets numbered consecutively from the river to the edge of town. Two major expressways, I-630 and I-30, bisect the city; freeway traffic is usually heavy. Bus service is provided by the municipally owned and operated Central Arkansas Transit (CAT).

Reborn after 57 years, Little Rock's streetcars began rolling again in November 2004. The River Rail Electric Streetcar system runs along a 2.5-mile track that links the major attractions between Little Rock and North Little Rock. Destinations include the ALLTEL Arena, the Statehouse Convention Center, River Market, Discovery Museum, and the Robinson Auditorium Concert Hall.

Little Rock: Population Profile

views updated Jun 08 2018

Little Rock: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 474,484

1990: 513,026

2000: 583,845

Percent change, 19902000: 13.8%

U.S. rank in 1990: 71st

U.S. rank in 2000: 73rd

City Residents

1980: 158,915

1990: 175,727

2000: 183,133

2003 estimate: 184,053

Percent change, 19902000: 4.2%

U.S. rank in 1990: 96th (State rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 128th (State rank: 1st)

Density: 1,576 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 100,848

Black or African American: 74,003

American Indian and Alaska Native: 500

Asian: 3,032

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 64

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 4,889

Other: 2,348

Percent of residents born in state: 68% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 12,989

Population 5 to 9 years old: 12,599

Population 10 to 14 years old: 12,254

Population 15 to 19 years old: 12,093

Population 20 to 24 years old: 13,560

Population 25 to 34 years old: 29,463

Population 35 to 44 years old: 28,547

Population 45 to 54 years old: 25,852

Population 55 to 59 years old: 8,180

Population 60 to 64 years old: 6,269

Population 65 to 74 years old: 10,484

Population 75 to 84 years old: 7,891

Population 85 years and older: 2,952

Median age: 34.5 years

Births (Pulaski County, 2001)

Total number: 8,345

Deaths (Pulaski County, 2001)

Total number: 3,331 (of which, 62 were infants under the age of one year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $23,209

Median household income: $37,572

Total households: 84,793

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 8,416

$10,000 to $14,999: 5,267

$15,000 to $24,999: 11,626

$25,000 to $34,999: 10,820

$35,000 to $49,999: 12,567

$50,000 to $74,999: 13,184

$75,000 to $99,999: 6,683

$100,000 to $149,999: 4,992

$150,000 to $199,999: 1,721

$200,000 or more: 2,245

Percent of families below poverty level: 11.1% (48.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 20,680

Little Rock

views updated May 29 2018

Little Rock

Little Rock: Introduction
Little Rock: Geography and Climate
Little Rock: History
Little Rock: Population Profile
Little Rock: Municipal Government
Little Rock: Economy
Little Rock: Education and Research
Little Rock: Health Care
Little Rock: Recreation
Little Rock: Convention Facilities
Little Rock: Transportation
Little Rock: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1820 (incorporated 1835)

Head Official: Mayor Jim Dailey (NP) (since 1995; current term expires in 2006)

City Population

1980: 158,915

1990: 175,727

2000: 183,133

2003 estimate: 184,053

Percent change, 19902000: 4.2%

U.S. rank in 1990: 96th (State rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 128th (State rank: 1st)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 474,484

1990: 513,026

2000: 583,845

Percent change, 19902000: 13.8%

U.S. rank in 1990: 71st

U.S. rank in 2000: 73rd

Area: 116 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 300 feet to 630 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 62.1° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 45.73 inches of rain; 5.2 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: services, wholesale and retail trade, government

Unemployment rate: 4.3% (November 2004)

Per Capita Income: $23,209 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 20,680

Major Colleges and Universities: University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkansas Baptist College, Philander Smith College, Webster University

Daily Newspaper: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Little Rock: Convention Facilities

views updated May 14 2018

Little Rock: Convention Facilities

With the development of Statehouse Plaza and its complex of meeting facilities and hotels, Little Rock has made a special effort to attract convention business. Situated along the Arkansas River, Statehouse Plaza is an eight-square-block area in downtown Little Rock that includes the Statehouse Convention Center and University Conference Center, Robinson Center, and several major hotels, including the Peabody, Capital, and Double Tree.

The Statehouse Convention Center features the Governor's Exhibition Hall, which has nearly 83,000 square feet of space that can be divided into four rooms or left as one large room. The Wally Allen Ballroom was created in a 1999 expansion that added more than 18,000 square feet of space. Other rooms are available for a variety of events. Atop the Center is the Peabody Little Rock Hotel, product of a $40 million reconstruction of the former Excelsior Hotel that was completed in January 2002. The Peabody has approximately 40,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, with an additional 19,000 square feet in the Peabody Conference Center.

Adjacent to the Statehouse Convention Center is the University Conference Center, which has 50,000 square feet of space, more than 13,000 square feet of which is designed specifically for meetings. Of additional interest are satellite down-links that allow for regional, national, or international teleconferences.

Down the street from these two facilities is the Robinson Center, which has a 14,867-square-foot exhibition hall that can hold 800 people in the main room, with additional exhibition space and seating in other exhibition and meeting rooms. Adjacent to this complex is the Doubletree Hotel, which emerged from a 1996 renovation of the former Camelot Hotel with 287 rooms and 13 suites.

Additional meeting rooms in the Statehouse Plaza area are available at the Arkansas Bar Center and the Old State House. Other area hotels and motels also provide meeting facilities for smaller groups.

Convention Information: Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Markham and Broadway, PO Box 3232, Little Rock, AR 72203; telephone (501)376-4781; toll-free 1-800-844-4781

Little Rock: Communications

views updated May 14 2018

Little Rock: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Little Rock has one major daily newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a morning paper that is circulated statewide. The weekly publication Arkansas Times is a general lifestyle newspaper aiming to educate readers about life in Arkansas, and the Arkansas Business News serves readers on a weekly basis. Several magazines are also based in the city; most serve specific business or religious interests.

Television and Radio

Seven television stationsfive network affiliates, one public, and one independentbroadcast from Little Rock. Twenty radio stations serve listeners in the area with a wide variety of formats.

Media Information: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 121 E. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, AR 72201; telephone (501)378-3400

Little Rock Online

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Available

Arkansas Department of Economic Development. Available

Arkansas History Commission. Available

Little Rock City Hall. Available

Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available

Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. Available

Little Rock School District. Available

University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Available

William J. Clinton Presidential Center. Available

Selected Bibliography

Beals, Melba, Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High (New York: Pocket Books, 1995)

Kirk, John A., Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 19401970 (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2002)

Worthen, Bill, Little Rock: One from the Heart, Urban Tapestry Series(Memphis, TN: Towery Publishing, 1996)

Little Rock

views updated May 14 2018


LITTLE ROCK is on the Arkansas River some 150 miles above its confluence with the Mississippi River. The place name was identified in 1721 by the French explorer Benard LaHarpe with his journal entry noting a "point of rocks" on the south bank of the river. Little Rock, a derivative of that name, was established in 1821. Decisions by the territorial legislature to designate the city as the seat of government and in 1836 the state capital secured the city's future.

The Civil War left the city unscathed, and in the last quarter of the nineteenth century investments in railroads and natural resources led to steady economic growth. This pattern, coupled with a growing presence of state and federal agencies, continued in the twentieth century. Employment opportunities stimulated by World War II accelerated a population boom that continued a full decade following the war. Growth was curtailed by the Little Rock school crisis in 1957. The city became an international symbol for racial prejudice when some of its citizens supported the governor's attempts to stop integration at the city's Central High School. Major reform efforts to improve the city's image and national demo-graphic changes fueled by interests in recreation, retirement, and an energy crisis allowed the city to regain its momentum. Governor Bill Clinton's election as president brought added attention to the city. By the year 2000 Little Rock's population exceeded 180,000.


Herndon, Dallas Tabor. Why Little Rock Was Born. Little Rock, Ark.: Central Printing, 1933.

Lester, Jim, and Judy Lester. Greater Little Rock. Norfolk, Va.: Donning, 1986.

Roy, F. Hampton, Sr., and Charles Witsell Jr. How We Lived: Little Rock as an American City. Little Rock, Ark.: August House Publishers, 1984.

C. FredWilliams

See alsoArkansas ; Segregation .

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