Conway is the epitome of a community that thinks big while retaining its small-town friendliness and charm. Once considered a bedroom community to Little Rock, this Central Arkansas city takes a back seat to no one when it comes to amenities and quality of life, and its rate of growth and ongoing economic development have set the bar for similarly sized Arkansas communities.
More than $300 million in commercial construction projects are underway and an additional one-million square feet of retail is slated to come online over the next three years. The city had barely christened its new airport in 2014 before expanding to meet the demand for additional general aviation and private hangars. Plus, a comprehensive highway project, set for a 2016 completion, will make the easy drive to neighboring communities and points of interest in Central Arkansas even more convenient.
Conway is referred to as the “City of Colleges” and with good reason: Three of the state’s finest institutions are here including the University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College and Central Baptist College. The three campuses provide an array of entertainment, sports, guest lecturers and culture for the general citizenry. A prime example, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, takes over the city in June hosting thousands who attend the performances.
Conway’s primary and secondary schools are also second to none. Be it public (Conway Public Schools, 9,700 students) or private (St. Joseph Parochial Schools, 500 students; Conway Christian School, 455 students), the quality of education is one primary driver of growth among young families.
When class isn’t in session, many families take to the great outdoors. Lake Conway, the largest man-made game and fish commission lake in the U.S., hosts competitive sport fishing tournaments and has a full complement of Arkansas sport fish. Lake Beaverfork, a city-owned recreational lake and park, accommodates skiing, boating, fishing and swimming, disc golf and pavilions. Conway boasts 17 other parks and is one of four Arkansas communities dubbed a “Bicycle-Friendly City,” thanks to the Tucker Creek Trail offering pedestrians and cyclists dedicated trail and park space.
The full roster of community events and festivals is long, headlined by Toad Suck Daze in May. The largest free festival in Arkansas, Toad Suck Daze welcomes more than 150,000 to the city’s historic and charming downtown for activities including free concerts, World Champion Toad Racing and a 5K/10K road race, to name a few.
Local health care options are another success story: Conway Regional Health System is a full service, 154-bed hospital with 1,400 employees and 125 physicians. In 2014 it was awarded the Governor’s Award for Quality, thanks in part to more than $60 million invested in new technology and services over the past decade. In 2016, Baptist Health will open a 96-bed, full-service hospital, employing 450.