PINE BLUFF, Ark. — There's history everywhere you look in Pine Bluff. For Dr. Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff, he knows that firsthand.
Born and raised in the city, Watley knows there's one piece of history that stands out.
"I thought about the old press inside of there, and I've walked that floor plan a lot," he said. "A lot of local people will get behind that and get involved, and it'll have a new conversation in this community."
The Pine Bluff Commercial building, which was sold late last year, is what Watley is remembering.
"I'm just happy that someone's gonna come in and make use of the building and it's not some mass storage facility," Watley said.
There's big plans for the building, coming all the way from California. Commonwealth Real Estate plans on turning the building into a cryptocurrency mining facility.
The main floor of the building, originally home to the Commercial's printing presses, will house the computers needed to mine the digital currency.
Drake Seal, operations manager, wouldn't go on camera but did confirm some information. Seal said there will be jobs needed, as the machines will need upkeep, but he's unsure of how many.
He also said the noise the machines make won't be an issue, as the train next door is loud as well. Seal said they're working with Entergy on power usage, since the machines will draw a lot.
We reached out to Entergy, who wouldn't discuss specific clients but did share this statement with us, saying in part, "As we see new industries like crypto mining emerging and turning into more mainstream operations, Entergy Arkansas is working diligently to manage these types of power needs and costs effectively."
It's new technology and new development for Watley, but he's happy to see anything positive take the building over. He's hoping more businesses follow suit, no matter where they come from.
"Pine Bluff is the place to do business, especially with the entrepreneurship," Watley said. "Let this be noticed by anyone else interested, come and survey Pine Bluff, and there's an opportunity for you as well."
Seal said if everything goes according to plan, the facility could be up and operational in 60 to 90 days.