Long thought of as a solely agricultural state, Arkansas has made strides in recent years to diversify its economic offerings and capabilities. Northwest Arkansas is now a hub for entrepreneurs and startups. Central Arkansas is becoming a cultural hotspot with unique small businesses popping up on a regular basis.
However, the state’s number one industry is still agriculture, and this industry is based largely in rural areas. As a result, the majority of Arkansas continues to be rural. In fact, more than 80 percent of Arkansas citizens live in rural areas, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC).
Developing rural areas in Arkansas is an ongoing challenge, but it’s a challenge that local and state leaders are tackling head-on. This week, leaders from across the state – from legislators to mayors to government officials – will be meeting in Hot Springs for the Arkansas Rural Development Conference.
Hosted by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission Division of Rural Services, the conference aims to introduce local leaders to AEDC programs, grants, research and other educational opportunities. These resources can then be used to lead development and revitalization efforts in Arkansas’ rural communities.
Starting on Tuesday, May 14, Eric Jackson, Oaklawn Park Senior Vice President, will welcome attendees to the conference at 1 p.m. This will be followed by two concurrent panels – Minority & Women-Owned Business 101 and Rural Arkansas Success Stories – at 2:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, there will be two panels at 9:30 a.m. – The War for Talent and Opportunity Zones in Arkansas.
At 11:30 a.m., the conference will have its major event. UA Athletics Director Hunter Yurachek will deliver the keynote address at the Arkansas Rural Development Commission Luncheon.
This will be followed by a political roundtable at 2:15 featuring representatives and senators from around Arkansas.
The final day will wrap up with two panels at 9:30 a.m. – Highway Funding in Arkansas and Challenges Facing Rural Communities. At 11:30 a.m., Gov. Asa Hutchinson will host the Governor’s Luncheon and Awards Ceremony.
The Arkansas Rural Development Conference will be held May 14-16 at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Hot Springs.
To register for the event, click here.