CONWAY — T.J. Johnston is leaving his position as executive vice president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and Conway Development Corp. to take a newly created position at the University of Central Arkansas.
UCA President Tom Courtway announced the hiring Tuesday in an email to employees.
Johnston, a 2003 UCA graduate, will be director of special university projects/community affairs, Courtway said.
Courtway said in the email that Johnston “will be responsible for overseeing all phases of the planning and development of the Donaghey corridor project, as well as working with officials of the city of Conway on the project.”
Johnston will also work on the development of UCA’s Greek Village, Courtway said, and will become the economic development liaison for UCA to employers and businesses in Conway and central Arkansas “to determine their needs, as well as develop relationships with those entities beneficial to UCA.
“He will also serve as the university’s liaison with the city of Conway and neighborhoods adjacent to campus,” Courtway wrote.
The email states that Johnston was involved in the planning and development of downtown Conway, including EM Jeans, the Halter Building renovation and infrastructure improvements. He also worked on construction of the Hewlett-Packard facility in The Meadows Office and Technology Park, and helped with planning for Central Landing, a retail and multiuse development planned for the old Conway airport site once the new airport is operational.
Johnston, 33, said it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the chamber and the CDC.
“I still truly enjoy going to work every day,” he said.
However, he said several developments at UCA, especially the revitalization of Donaghey Avenue, are “very exciting.”
Johnston said he was on the committee to help select an architectural firm for the first Donaghey corridor project, and he found out the university was going to create the new position.
The Donaghey corridor project “will take something great and make it better,” Johnston said.
“It looks like, broadly speaking, the project is taking
a mixed-style approach to the development of Donaghey, most likely starting at the Bruce Street intersection and moving south,” he said.
It will start with a multilevel, mixed-use building with ground-level retail and student housing above it, he said.
“It’s going to better integrate the community with the campus,” Johnston said.
He said the first phase of the Donaghey corridor project could get underway in 2016.
“What they’ve got going on on that campus is superb,” he said. “I feel strongly that you can’t have the success story we have in Conway without UCA, and vice versa.”
Johnston will start in his position at UCA on Feb. 24, and his annual salary will be $105,000.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.