Conway Area Chamber of Commerce headed a record-sized gathering of the business community in Conway Thursday, where outstanding locals and businesses were singled out for recognition among their peers.
The Chamber’s award for Distinguished Service went to Robert H. “Bunny” Adcock, vice chairman of the board at Centennial Bank.
The Good Neighbor Award went to Quentin Washispack, mission and outreach pastor at New Life Church.
Outstanding Business of the Year-Small Business went to Sonshine Academy.
Young Business Leader of the Year went to Umang Patel, owner of Conway Management Inc., also operator of four local hotels.
Outstanding Business of the Year-Retailer went to The Kitchen Store.
Business Executive of the Year was Brad Hegeman of Nabholz Construction Services.
The Chamber’s Outstanding Business of the Year-Hospitality went to Kings Live Music, owned by Dustin Botsford and Marcus Bobbitt.
Outstanding Business of the Year-Large Employer was Centerpoint Energy.
Outstanding Business of the Year-Nonprofit was Independent Living Services, headed by Jackie Fliss.
The crowd of about 1,100 heard from Steven Meuller, president and CEO of Southwestern Energy Company, who spoke in an interview with Melissa Dunbar-Gates briefly on subjects from his own start in the natural gas industry, to energy independence, and the future of the gas driller.
Mueller, CEO of SWN since 2009, said the company will have a presence locally for “generations,” specifically two to three, he said.
The company opened a regional office in Conway in January of 2011 at a high activity period in the local shale play.
Southwestern Energy was founded in Arkansas more than 80 years ago as a local gas distribution company.
Today, the company focuses on exploration and production and is the fifth largest producer in the United States.
In the third quarter of last year, SWN says it had placed a total of 89 operational horizontal wells on production in the Fayetteville Shale.
The formation is about 50 miles wide from north to south and stretches across the state in a band that encompasses Faulkner County.
Mueller said the company is involved in the Brown Dense play in southern Arkansas and has 13 wells drilled there as well.
It looks like the play will be on the Louisiana side of the formation, Mueller said, but the company won’t know for another six months to a year if the play will be successful.