A new Bentonville site for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville has opened, with a lease agreement for an even larger space set to take effect Aug. 1.
An office park adjacent to arts exhibition space at the Momentary is serving as home base for UA innovation outreach efforts known as the Collaborative. In the same office park, a university unit with a focus on workforce and professional development will offer training and certification programs.
It's believed to be UA's first site in Bentonville, said university spokesman Andy Albertson.
It comes after the announcement last year of a $194.7 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. The Walton gift established the UA Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research, an initiative that will include construction of a new research building on the Fayetteville campus and support for taking research to the marketplace.
The gift also provided $14 million to set up a Bentonville satellite site.
The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation is a charitable organization controlled by the family of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Walmart's corporate headquarters is in Bentonville.
Albertson said in an email that roughly "50 people a day are using the space," though only one employee is based there full time. He said another is expected to be hired.
The site in the Greenway Office Park will be where UA's "first set" of non-credit, executive education courses in Bentonville is set to launch this summer, Albertson said.
"Additional classes will be offered in the fall. There are no definite plans yet to offer for-credit, post-baccalaurate courses; however, this is certainly a possibility," Albertson said.
University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt, on behalf of the board of trustees for the UA System, signed a lease agreement effective Jan. 1 for 6,428 square feet of space in two buildings at the Greenway Office Park. The university is paying $15,496.60 per month, according to the lease agreement, which was released under the state's public disclosure law.
The university "may extend the lease" for four "1-year periods," the agreement states, giving an "initial term" ending date of Dec. 31, 2024. The rent is set to increase each year.
A second lease agreement set to begin Aug. 1, also signed by Bobbitt, is for 8,577 square feet of space. The university is to pay $13,937.63 per month for this space, with the length of the lease also structured to include four one-year extensions.
Food Hub NWA LLC is listed on the documents as renting the sites at 700 S.E. Fifth St. and 702 S.E. Fifth St. to the university.
Albertson said the larger space is expected to be used by the UA unit known as Global Campus, which helps develop various education programs, including for workforce development.
"We may add more space in the future as we continue the university's outreach to Bentonville," Albertson said.
The new UA presence in Bentonville is expected to tie into efforts to get research into the marketplace. UA has announced that Toby Teeter, previously president and CEO of a chamber of commerce organization in Joplin, began July 6 as inaugural director of Collaborative.
"I look forward to connecting Bentonville business leaders and economic development stakeholders with the university to establish strategic partnerships and champion innovation culture," Teeter said in a statement.
Albertson said Teeter is working remotely for UA. Teeter continues on as president of the Joplin chamber through July, said Erin Slifka, a spokeswoman for the chamber.
Teeter's UA salary is $190,000, Albertson said.