Vacancy rates decline as vaccinated workers fill offices


A year after the start of the pandemic, it appears vacancy rates for commercial and retail properties in central Arkansas are improving as vaccines spread and workers return to offices.

Colliers of Arkansas, in its analysis of the real estate market in the first quarter of 2021, noted some optimism related to a general recovery in the sector.

“Office vacancy rates have trended downward over the past two quarters,” the property management company reported. “There have been fewer long-term lease renewals, but landlords have always been able to sign leases.”

Vacancy rates in three key sectors – offices, manufacturing and retail – have stabilized over the past two quarters. From the second quarter of 2020 to the end of March, the office vacancy rate fell from 20.3% to 15.2%; the industrial sector fell from 12.5% ​​to 10.2%; and retail trade remained relatively stable, increasing from 17.5% to 16.5%.

In the office sector, Colliers reports that long-term lease renewals have slowed but building owners are still recruiting tenants. “Businesses appear to retain office space as employees start to return to the office,” the report said.

The office market, however, is volatile. Vacancy rates in downtown Little Rock are higher than average, while southwest Little Rock has the region’s lowest vacancy rate at 4.2%. North Little Rock is the highest in the region at almost 23%.

Rental rates are improving in the industrial sector and more and more buildings are under construction. New speculative buildings add more available space as owners expand their real estate portfolio. “Confidence in ownership is increasing every month as vacancy rates in the industry continue to decline,” Colliers reported.

Retailers are getting a boost from the increase in vaccines, giving shoppers more freedom of movement, the management company reporting that “we are seeing more retailers reopening and expanding their spaces.”

Low vacancy retail sectors include medical and pharmaceutical services, banking, grocery stores, and auto service companies.

The overall development of new projects resumes in the Little Rock market. “Demand is strong for industrial, multi-family, banking and senior projects,” noted Mr. Colliers. “But the price of materials has gone up and caused delays or developers to change materials to meet deadlines.”

Colliers has two offices in Arkansas and manages approximately 18.7 million square feet of space in the state.


The Arkansas National Science Foundation seeks research proposals that strengthen ties with Arkansas businesses and provide unique educational opportunities.

The foundation provides grants as part of a $ 20 million project linked to the organization’s established program to stimulate competitive research. This effort provides seed funding to university researchers across the state.

“This project is spread across more than a dozen four-year and two-year Arkansas colleges and universities and involves more than 60 university researchers,” said Steve Stanley, director of the statewide program. for the initiative.

The program offers grants for cutting-edge research in data analysis and machine learning. The State associates the subsidy with the 4 million dollars that it contributes to the overall effort.

Researchers in research or teaching positions at colleges and universities in Arkansas may submit proposals.

Proposals must be submitted by June 30. Further information is available at [email protected]


As we pay tribute to our mothers today, the news for working mothers in Arkansas isn’t all that good. The state does not fare well in a national study that examines the working conditions of mothers across a range of categories.

The state’s best ranking for working mother’s life is 15th – for female unemployment rate. The state is ranked 17th for the median salary of women.

Arkansas ranks 18th in two categories: the gender pay gap measuring women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s and for parental leave policies in companies.

Working mothers in Arkansas also face other challenges when it comes to the quality of child care, the average length of a work week, and the percentage of single mothers living in poverty – all categories. where the state ranks 40th or worse. Arkansas is the latest to measure pediatricians per capita.

Taking all categories into account, Arkansas was ranked 43rd in the country. Louisiana finished last and Massachusetts ranked first as the most welcoming states for working mothers.

The study, conducted by WalletHub, compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia on three key dimensions: child care, job opportunities, and work-life balance. More information is available on


Restaurant owners are starting to rely on federal loans to recover from the covid pandemic.

The US Small Business Administration reported last week that it received more than 186,000 loan applications through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

This initiative is a $ 28.6 billion program that provides economic assistance to restaurants and other establishments struggling to recover from the pandemic.

“Restaurants in our country were among the first and worst affected by this pandemic, which is why we are working as quickly as possible to meet with companies where they are located and to put much-needed relief into their hands,” said Isabella, administrator of the SBA. Casillas Guzman.

“As indicated by Congress, we are prioritizing historically underserved communities and small businesses to ensure that this help goes to those who need it most.”

In the first two days of the application window, the SBA received 97,600 applications from companies owned and controlled by women, veterans, socially and economically disadvantaged people, or a combination of the three.

No statistics for Arkansas were available at the start of the program.

Under this program, restaurants and bars are eligible for economic assistance equal to their lost revenue from the pandemic, with a cap of $ 10 million per business and $ 5 million per location.

Column ideas or recommendations? Any thoughts or reflections for further study? Contact me at [email protected] or at 501-378-3567.


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