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Windstream Picks Little Rock, AR for HQ

Windstream is making Little Rock, AR its permanent headquarters and adding more than 200 jobs in Arkansas over the next two years, the company said Tuesday.

Officials with the communications company joined Gov. Mike Beebe and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola in making the announcement at the State Capitol in front of a packed-room of supporters. Most of the 210 new jobs will be in Little Rock and each of them will pay at least $40,000 annually.

“I am extremely pleased to announce that Windstream has chosen to make Little Rock its permanent home,” company CEO Jeff Gardner said in a statement. “This is due in large part to the fact that the state of Arkansas and the city of Little Rock have created a climate where technology companies like Windstream can grow and achieve long-term success… “

Windstream was created in July 2006 when Alltel spun off its landline division and merged it with Texas-based VALOR Communications. The new company set up in west Little Rock and quickly grew, acquiring five communications companies in the next several years.

When it came time to renew the lease this year, the company investigated options around the country.

“But in the end, after careful analysis, we decided the best course of action was to remain in Little Rock and in Arkansas,” Gardner said, adding later that financial incentives provided by the state and the regional placement relative to the company’s customers in the southeast played into the decision. “At the end of the day, our comprehensive conclusion was Little Rock was the right place for Windstream to be.”

Beebe said the incentives included about $1 million in Quick Action Closing Funds for building and training and additional benefits tied to performance. He called it a wise investment.

“I don’t know that you can spend taxpayers dollars in any better way than to create or maintain good jobs,” Beebe said.

Keeping a large headquarters in Arkansas for the long-term will cause a “ripple effect” felt across the local and state economy, Beebe said, citing the example of employees frequently flying in and out of Little Rock for meetings or other work at the headquarters facility.

Windstream has grown from doing business in 16 states when it was created in 2006 to working in 23 states currently.

“The entire idea of having a headquarters of a company that touches so many different areas of our country is big deal for Little Rock and a big deal for Arkansas,” Beebe said.

Windstream currently employs about 825 people in Little Rock and more than 1,100 across the state. The headquarters will remain at 4001 Rodney Parham Road.

The company provides high-speed internet and high-definition digital TV services. In 2009, it provided internet service to its millionth customer.

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