Sixty years ago, Winthrop Rockefeller, Harvey Couch, Herbert Thomas, John Tyson, Raymond Rebsamen, and over one hundred other individual business leaders and utility companies from all over Arkansas made contributions as founding shareholders of First Arkansas Development Finance Corporation, established as a special purpose nonprofit finance company.
Going strong today as Arkansas Capital Corporation (ACC), the Company has, for six decades, partnered with commercial banks, governmental agencies and others to provide flexible financing options for small business owners and entrepreneurs. I am proud to say that, over these years, those partnerships have resulted in almost $2 billion in loans and other capital financing for these enterprises.
Seeing the opportunity and potential value of a statewide collegiate business plan competition in the development of a dynamic economic climate in Arkansas, in 2001 ACC launched the “Governor’s Award for Entrepreneurial Development,” today known as the Arkansas Governor’s Cup.
The stated goals of the competition were:
- to promote and support college students in their entrepreneurial endeavors and new venture creation;
- to encourage commercialization of promising ideas emerging from colleges and universities;
- to build bridges between these collegiate institutions and the entrepreneurial community; and,
- to become one of the premier business plan competitions in the entire United States.
With nearly 3,000 eager student participants, faculty advisors, and mentors; nearly 1,000 volunteer judges; and hundreds of financial sponsors; collectively, we’ve succeeded. The Governor’s Cup has been an important contributor in building and nurturing today’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arkansas. Even competitors who didn’t go forward with their business ideas tell us they have a far greater appreciation for the entrepreneurial process and have applied both the hard and soft skills they learned from the competition in their professional careers. We find that many of them, even years later, proudly cite their participation in the Governor’s Cup on their resumes, their LinkedIn pages, etc., as a meaningful “merit badge” in their professional development.
I hope you are as proud as we are of our state’s collegiate entrepreneurs! And, for 2018, we are very thankful to Delta Plastics as the new underwriting sponsor for the competition. We invite you to go to our website to learn more about this exciting and impactful program.
Rush B. Deacon
Chief Executive Officer
Arkansas Capital Corporation