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LR group acquires computer tech firm

Circumference Group in Little Rock announced Tuesday that it has invested in acquiring majority ownership of Conway-based The Computer Works to support broadband provider growth across Arkansas.

Financial details were not disclosed. Conference organizer and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Fox said Tuesday’s efforts will focus on supporting The Computer Works ’broadband expansion to Arkansas communities.

“The business has grown and our goal is to help them continue to grow it and make it a service provider for more customers,” Fox said. “Broadband is strategically important to rural communities and we want to be a maker of difference.”

Circumference is an investment firm that also provides expertise to enhance the operational efforts of businesses that take in its investments. The company will work to improve The Computer Works ’operations and upgrade automation and technology services to keep up with the expansion.

“They’ve done a great job in the business and there are only a few areas we can help be careful of,” Fox said. “We want to help them continue to grow efficiently and provide a great service to Arkansas customers.”

Computer Works was founded in 1989 to provide networking and computer services to businesses and eventually expanded to offer digital subscriber lines (DSL) for customers. In 2016, the company began laying fiber and focused on expanding high-speed internet to rural communities.

Today it offers broadband to residential and business customers in Arkansas, Conway, Cleburn, Faulkner, Searcy, Stone and Van Buren counties. “Our primary focus is in rural areas and we want to continue to expand fiber to communities,” President Pat Wilson said Tuesday.

“Circumference helps us expand and they bring experience to all aspects of broadband,” Wilson added. “Circumference is the perfect companion for us – they’re very committed to Arkansas.”

Circumference investing comes at a critical time in the broadband industry.

Broadband expansion became an important economic growth and educational initiative during the pandemic, as many workers staying at home needed high speed internet service and broadband was also important to support students to comply. in lessons as schools closed during the spread of covid-19. .

Last year, Congress approved spending $ 65 billion on broadband expansion nationwide as part of President Biden’s infrastructure investment bill. Another $ 25 billion has been allocated through the American Rescue Plan. “Cheap, high-speed internet connects Americans to critical services and expands economic opportunities in every community,” the administration said in announcing the funding, which is provided by Arkansas and other state bases. on demand.

In Arkansas, the state’s Rural Connect program has invested $ 368 million to expand broadband to more than 109,000 homes.

Computer Works received $ 11 million through the state program, including grants to boost expansion in Cleburne, Conway and Faulkner counties. Arkansas Rural Connect gave The Computer Works about $ 2.25 million to expand fixed wireless and another $ 8.7 million to facilitate fiber deployment, according to state records.

“That funding has really helped expand broadband around Conway and other areas,” Wilson said.

The companies announced Tuesday that Wilson will continue as president of The Computer Works and the company’s chief executive will remain in Conway.

In April, a report from the Broadband Development Group estimated that the cost of expanding broadband access to about 110,000 Arkansas homes without high-speed internet would amount to $ 550 million and reduce the number of remaining homes. lack of service to about 10,000 in three years. The group was hired by the state to assess broadband needs and better target service delivery.

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