Southwest and Northwest Arkansas Economic Development Boot Camps

It’s May – let that sink in for a moment. 2016 has zoomed by, hasn’t it? At least for our team it has.

Our team at the Center for Community and Economic Development has been moving full speed ahead into this year. We’re finishing up projects all over the state in North Little Rock, Crossett, Heber Springs, and the both the Technical Assistance for Mayors (TAM) program and our Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) Regional Economic Development Boot Camps have wrapped up for the 2015-2016 year.

In this post, we would like to specifically delve into our Southwest and Northwest Economic Development Boot Camps. An astounding 55 community leaders from 39 different communities attended the Southwest Boot Camp in Magnolia and there were 40 attendees at the Northwest Boot Camp in Bentonville. The training events were a part of initiatives to support the Center’s Rural Community and Economic Development Grant awarded by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF), as a part of their Moving the Needle Strategic Plan 2.0. The Center will offer a variety of similar training events and technical assistance across the state throughout the next three years supported by funding from WRF.

Participants at the Boot Camps underwent a day full of free community and economic development training on a variety of topics: “Economic Development 101 & Community Branding and Marketing,” “Role of the Local Official in Economic Development,” “Site Selection, Preparing the Product, and Working with AEDC,” “The Community’s Role in Retaining and Growing Small Businesses in a Challenging Economy,” “Fueling Local Economic Change through Youth Entrepreneurship,” and an interactive activity called “Using What You Have.” You can view the SWA Agenda here and the NWA agenda here. There were also plenty of opportunities built into the agendas for participants to network with each other and begin regional conversations.

We would like to thank our speakers who have stuck with us throughout this year to provide the regional Boot Camps: Jon Chadwell with the Newport Economic Development Commission, Steve Jones with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Jeff Amerine with Startup Junkie Consulting, and Teresa Cheeks Wilson and Kathy Moore Cowan with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Memphis Branch. Each of our speakers has been an extremely valuable piece for both our team and our participants; they are truly leaders in our field.

We would also like to thank our partners for both events: the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District, Golden Triangle Economic Development Council, Magnolia Economic Development Corporation, Northwest Arkansas Planning Development District, and Arkansas Economic Developers.

Does this training sound like something you would be interested in hosting or attending? Do you know local officials or community leaders that would benefit from this kind of training? If so, we encourage you to reach out to us at (501) 450-5269 or to get plugged in to future activities at the Center. As previously stated, the Center will continue to hold regional training events throughout the next two years and we would love to come to a community near you if there is a need. More details on 2016-2017 events will be released in Fall 2016.