CONWAY — A company that provides privacy protection for smart phone users said Monday it will move to a new and expanded location in downtown Conway and add 121 jobs.
PrivacyStar said it will invest $270,000 in the expansion. The new hires will be paid an average annual salary of $75,000.
Founded in 2008, PrivacyStar is the creator of a smart phone application, also called PrivacyStar, that allows customers to block and report unwanted callers and send customized text messages such as “I’m driving” or “I’m in a meeting,” among other features.
Charles Morgan, executive chairman of First Ori0n, the Little Rock-based parent company of PrivacyStar, said in a news conference Monday the company now has 24 employees and expects to add five to 10 positions immediately, with the rest of the new positions being added over the next two years.
“I know that there is a market for what we’re doing worldwide,” said Morgan, also founder and a former executive of Acxiom of Little Rock.
Morgan said one challenge the company faces is finding qualified workers. He said that although many in the state are looking for jobs, not many of them are mobile software developers.
“We’ve been working with the colleges and universities to try to put together programs that are appropriate for the kind of people we need,” he said.
Gov. Mike Beebe, who also took part in the news conference, praised the state’s institutions of higher learning for being flexible.
“In today’s world, the colleges and universities respond to the specific needs of business and industry, and those specific needs are changing daily,” he said.
PrivacyStar received $224,000 from the governor’s Quick-Action Closing Fund to help it acquire equipment and materials for its new facility in Federal Plaza on Main Street, about half a mile from its old location. The company also will receive sales tax refunds on building materials, machinery and equipment associated with the expansion and income tax credits tied to the number of positions it adds.