In The News

Opportunity zone task force named; 20 people are selected by Little Rock mayor

by Rachel Herzog | August 10, 2019 at 2:26 a.m.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has named 20 people to serve on a task force that will work on helping the city to leverage its opportunity zones.

The team of developers, bankers and civic leaders will study how the city can attract investors to the federally designated economically distressed census tracts in Little Rock where new investments can be eligible for preferential tax treatment, a federal initiative that came with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Arkansas Opportunity Zone Selection (2018.4.20 update)

At a panel discussion that hosted officials from Washington, D.C., on Monday, Scott said encouraging investment in opportunity zones is one way to revitalize disadvantaged areas.

The task force will be chaired by Will Rockefeller of the Winrock Group. Martie North Hamilton, director of community development at Simmons Bank, will serve as a co-chair, according to a news release from the city.

The committee also includes:

• Regina Favors, interim president of Arkansas Baptist College

• Lisa Ferrell, developer

• Merritt Dake, CEO of Rock Dental Brands

• Virgil Miller, banker at Arvest Bank

• Angel Burt, vice president of the Dunbar Historic Neighborhood Association

• Kevin Huchingson, CEO of Colliers International, Arkansas office

• Shawn Govind, director of real estate development for the Pinnacle Hotel Group

• Leslie Lane, president of Arkansas Capital Corporation Group

• Ivan Hudson, insurance agent

• Tristan Wilkerson, managing principal at Think Rubix LLC

Lee Hastings IV, agent with Flake and Kelley Commercial

• Chris Moses, developer

• Jill Floyd, member of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission

• Richard Mays, anonymous lawyer

• Nathan Rutledge, senior management director of Crews & Associates

• Ted Dickey, investment fund founder

• Patrick Schueck, vice president of Lexicon Inc.

• Pam Courtney, developer

Trader Joe’s gets city OK for $1M work to renovate space in west Little Rock

11500 Financial Center Parkway

by Noel Oman | Today at 12:20 p.m.

Trader Joe’s, the California-based grocery store chain that has built its popularity on store-wide private-label products, has won city approval to retrofit part of a former Toys R Us location in west Little Rock to house its first Arkansas store.

The work, valued at more than $1 million, includes new systems for heating and cooling the store, refrigeration, plumbing click here now to see the fantastic job that have done All Sewers Service Plumbing 4276 Katella Ave #230 Los Alamitos CA 90720 (844) 389-8882 and electrical work as well as the installation of grocery-store fixtures, according to the permit, which was approved last week.

The permit application was filed by Jeda Design in July. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based design firm’s clients include Trader Joe’s.

Hank Kelley, chief executive officer, partner, and executive broker of Flake & Kelley, the commercial real estate firm marketing the former Toys R Space at 11500 Financial Centre Parkway, said he wasn’t authorized to speak about the prospective tenant.

The firm’s marketing documents lists about half of the available space in the Toys R Us storefront as still being available, the balance of the roughly 30,000 square feet reserved for a “national retailer.”

A spokesman for Trader Joe’s didn’t immediately return a phone call for comment.

Task force set for Little Rock Zoo; group to examine business model, facilities plans

Little Rock Zoo Task Force

by Josh Snyder | July 22, 2019 at 9:44 a.m.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and the Arkansas Zoological Foundation on Monday announced the creation of a task force that will study planning and development for the city’s zoo.

The “Task Force for the Zoo’s Future,” part of Scott’s initiative to consider the future of the War Memorial Park area, will scrutinize the zoo’s business model and facilities master plan and develop a funding action plan, according to a news release by the city.

The zoo’s master plan was initially developed in 2014, and members of the new team will consider new strategies in park and animal habitat design, as well as guest amenities, officials said.

“As one of the largest tourist attractions in the state and the only accredited zoo in Arkansas, the Little Rock Zoo is an important part of War Memorial Park and our City,” Scott said.

According to the release, task force members will include:

  • Brad Cazort, Chair of the Zoo Board of Governors
  • Lisa Buehler, Chair of the Arkansas Zoological Foundation
  • State Joyce Elliott, Vice-Chair of the Mayor’s Quality of Life Subcommittee for the Scott Script
  • Kathy Webb, City Ward 3 Director and liaison to the Zoo Board of Governors
  • Jessica Poynter, Chair, Generation Zoo Young Professionals
  • Chad Causey, Causey Law Firm, Board Member, Arkansas Zoological Foundation
  • Andrew Rogerson, Chancellor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Hank Kelley, CEO/Partner, Flake & Kelley Commercial
  • Tab Townsell, Executive Director, Metroplan
  • Rhonna Wade, Chair, Create Little Rock
  • Gretchen Hall, Executive Director, Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Brandon Bibby, Associate AIA, WER Architects/Planners
  • Nate Coulter, Director, Central Arkansas Library System

Zoo Director Susan Altrui, City Manager Bruce Moore, and Jay Chessir, President and CEO of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce are to serve in ex-officio roles, officials said. According to the release, Schultz & Williams, a “zoo consulting firm” will support the task force with business planning regarding public-private partnerships. The Arkansas Zoological Foundation contracted the firm for $26,000 excluding travel expenses, according to officials.

Stephanie and Hank Kelley endow scholarship in honor of Dr. Ashvin Vibhakar

Stephanie and Hank Kelley


Tracy Courage, June 27, 2019, Campus Community Featured homepage News

University of Arkansas at Little Rock business and finance students can now look forward to an additional scholarship to help them complete their dream of finishing a college education, thanks to a generous gift from a community-minded Little Rock couple.

Henry “Hank” Kelley Jr. and his wife Stephanie have donated $37,000 to the A.P. Vibhakar Endowed Scholarship, named in honor of Dr. Ashvin Vibhakar, UA Little Rock’s long-time Joe. T. Ford Chair of Finance.

“I am touched and honored to have this scholarship endowed in my name,” Vibhakar said. “I am thankful to Hank and Stephanie, who I consider to be my close friends and family, for their gift. Hank was one of my MBA students in the 1980s, and having a past student honor me this way gives me the sense that I have made a difference in the community.”

Chancellor Emeritus Joel Anderson created the scholarship in 2009 with a $5,000 gift, and the Kelleys’ donation brings the scholarship’s endowment to $50,000. Now that the endowment has reached that level, the scholarship will be awarded annually to a UA Little Rock minority student majoring in international business or finance.

Dr. Ashvin Vibhakar

Hank Kelley and Vibhakar are both members of the Rotary Club of Little Rock. Kelley, incoming president of Rotary 99, said his new responsibility led him to understand how important higher education is to the future of Little Rock

“The scholarship that Stephanie and I funded is a recognition of Ashvin Vibhakar’s service to his students and UA Little Rock,” Hank Kelley said. “We share membership in Rotary 99 of Little Rock with many other members of the UA Little Rock community, and Stephanie and I know Little Rock’s trajectory is directly tied to having a student-focused research university in our city. We know no better way to express our appreciation to Ashvin and Diane as friends than to help fund this important scholarship in his name.”

Chancellor Andrew Rogerson, also a Rotarian, said the university is indebted to Hank Kelley and other donors like him in central Arkansas who understand the importance of helping UA Little Rock thrive.

“Hank and Stephanie are pillars of the community who have given their hearts and souls to Little Rock,” Rogerson said. “Their latest gift to support business scholarships is yet another investment in the future of this university that will help us cultivate future leaders in central Arkansas.”

Hank Kelley is the CEO, partner, and executive broker in his brokerage and property management firm, Flake & Kelley Commercial. He received an MBA from UA Little Rock and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, both with honors. In addition to his Rotary membership, Kelley is involved with the UA Little Rock Foundation, Baptist Health Foundation Board, Fifty for the Future, and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership Board.

Stephanie Kelley works as a Pilates instructor, coach, and mentor in the community. She is a graduate of Mount St. Mary Academy and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where she and Hank met. The couple has four children and nine grandchildren.

Serving Little Rock Right

Hank Kelley

Todd Traub, “Serving Little Rock Right” Soireé, 27 June 2019

photography by Jason Masters


Whether helping to lead the commercial real estate company that partially bears his name or presiding in his new role as Rotary Club of Little Rock president, Hank Kelley is a developer.

Kelley is CEO, partner and executive broker with commercial real estate firm Flake and Kelley Commercial. In the roles of appraiser, manager, broker, developer and investor, Kelley has through the years helped clients achieve their real estate goals, putting new tenants and new life into properties around Arkansas.

“I get to deal with usually a very intelligent group of investors and users of real estate,” Kelley says during a break from work at Flake and Kelley’s downtown Little Rock headquarters.

Kelley still performs multiple functions for the firm, except appraisals, and in his position he can’t help but be pro-Little Rock.

“I’ve worked in downtown all my life, so I like being connected to a Rotary Club that’s connected to all of Little Rock, but rooted in downtown.”

Kelley wants to find ways to help the club assist new Mayor Frank Scott Jr., and by extension the city, especially when it comes to Scott’s emphasis on developing city pride.

“We want to help him with the swagger part,” Kelley says.

Kelley has always been an unabashed “cheerleader” for Little Rock, but has accomplished more tangible things in his day job. He also brings concrete ideas to his new role as Rotary president, which includes partnering with Dunbar Magnet Middle School on its Interact Club, a sort of mini-rotary organization with elected student officers and a service project in the works.

A year in the making, the Dunbar project offers mentorship and a chance to positively shape the outlook of young people and show them career options, all before they enter high school.

In short, Kelley says, the project is in the “bullseye” of what Rotary is about.

“The signature project and our connection to Dunbar is going to be a big part of what I want to drive this year,” he says.


Service Above Self

Rotary International is a service organization founded with the purpose of bringing together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service and promote peaceful causes worldwide.

The organization was founded in Chicago in 1905 by lawyer Paul Harris and three friends looking to recreate the collegial spirit they had enjoyed in their hometowns. With the motto “Service above self,” Rotary expanded into more than 200 countries or territories, tackling causes like fighting disease — especially polio — promoting education, growing local economies and providing clean water.

In 1913, Memphis transplant Sid Brooks, an advertising executive, formed the Little Rock chapter — known as “Rotary 99” for its charter number within the club — with four other acquaintances who were also professional men with a downtown presence.

From the outset, Rotary 99, like the parent organization, has courted the community’s movers and shakers for membership. The goal has never been networking or promoting one’s business, Kelley says, though the business connections are certainly helpful.

“The primary purpose of Rotary is not to see how many gross sales I can get out of the membership,” he says. “But if my business grows because of Rotary that’s a good thing.”

According to Kelley, the true value of a diverse range of professions represented is that it increases the capacity and ability to get things done.

Kelley points to the Dunbar project as an example. A businessman may have a concept for helping schools, but Rotary allows that person to network with educational administrators whose knowledge of schools can make the concept a reality.

“I want to help create a person-to-person forum — an oasis of connections, friends — but there for a purpose.”


Raised on Rotary

One of Kelley’s earliest memories of Rotary includes pancakes.

Kelley grew up in Heber Springs and his father, Henry Kelley Sr., 93, was active in the local chapter. The Heber Rotarians were known for their pancake breakfasts and, of course, their service to the community.

“The thing that I remember is they were involved with our school,” Kelley says.

He graduated from the University of Arkansas and in the late 1970s worked in the northwest Arkansas real estate market. While there, Kelley met Stephanie Dailey, sister to former Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey, and the two were married in 1979.

The Kelleys relocated to central Arkansas and Hank plunged into the local commercial real estate market in 1980.

The couple have four children, all grown. Their son Nicholas is an attorney who came to work with his father at Flake and Kelley a few years ago, much to the senior Kelley’s delight.

“I guess you can call me pretty family oriented,” he says.

Little Rock in the 1980s was a good place, with a well-defined real estate market, in which to advance a career, Kelley recalls. As a rising professional influenced by his father and his boyhood experience, Kelley was predisposed to join Rotary along with a handful of other nonprofits.

He first became involved with the west Little Rock chapter, serving as president during the 1996-1997 term, then was invited to join Rotary 99 in the early 2000s, an attractive option given his love for downtown.

Kelley values the organization’s relentless optimism and can-do spirit.

“We look at things from a positive point of view rather than ‘The sky is falling,’” he says.

In these days of social media sniping among strangers, Rotary offers, to Kelley and the 350-plus membership, a place in which people gather in person, discuss, debate and differ without judgements or animosity.

“Rotary is a place where if I’m Catholic, if I’m Protestant, if I’m Jewish, if I’m agnostic, if I’m black, if I’m white, if I’m Spanish, if I’m Indian, if I’m Mexican, I am welcome.”


Process and Plans

Kelley has had some time to develop a vision for his Rotary 99 administration.

Becoming president is a multi-year process which begins with a nominating committee that makes recommendations to the board. The board then takes a nomination to the membership for a vote.

Ideally a Rotarian considered for president has already served in a number of capacities with the club and, preferably, is someone who brings something unique in terms of vocation or personality.

“Maybe it’s a mesh of all those things,” Kelley says.

If selected, the president-elect nominee spends a year observing, learning and becoming familiar with the office. The next year the nominee is simply the president-elect, and the year after that, in June, he or she takes office.

One of a nominee’s most important qualifications is having the time to serve in office. For this, Kelley thanks the people at his firm.

“My partners are supporting me in the time I need to spend to do it right,” he says.

Kelley notes comments by incoming Rotary International President Mark Maloney, an Alabama attorney, who has spoken of keeping the club family friendly, with realistic expectations of what people can contribute and an appreciation for work-life balance.

Today’s Rotarians are not as interested in perfect attendance at meetings as they are in substantial objectives that can be practically achieved.

“That resonates with me because I am fully employed as a CEO of this company,” Kelley says.

As he prepared for his term, Kelley came across the book “Our Towns” by James and Deborah Fallows.

The authors ventured into the smaller towns and communities in the nation’s flyover country, where they observed and picked out 10 1/2 signs of civic success. The list includes having a downtown, being located near a research university, having identifiable community patriots, innovative schools, even a craft brewery or two (item No. 10 1/2).

The list resonated with Kelley, who points out that Little Rock has most of the items on the civic success list. He refers to it, not so much as a blueprint for getting things done, but rather as a mantra that underscores Rotary’s mission with the community.

“I said ‘Bingo. This is what I need to be exposed to.’”

As for the blueprint — his to-do list — Kelley returns to the Dunbar Interact Club and notes the school’s previous efforts to raise funds for Heifer International. Hopefully, Kelley says, more than 100 Rotarians will take part in the Dunbar projects.

He will also support Rotary 99’s ongoing recognition program for police and fire departments, another favorite.

And Kelley will continue to help recruit members and lend his efforts to the things that have always set Rotary apart: outreach programs, the club’s series of interesting speakers at each Tuesday meeting and the Ottenheimer International Youth Program, an exchange program for young professionals.