Kristi Barr Director, Workforce Development & Education of Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce
Kristi Barr is the Director of Workforce Development and Education at the Little Rock Regional Chamber. She works to support the advancement of public schools; monitor and increase the talent pipeline for employers; and increase the labor force participation rate in Little Rock and Central Arkansas. Prior to this position, she worked as the Director of Business Retention and Expansion at the Chamber and is fueled by a passion to help area businesses find the qualified labor and talent they desperately need.
Kristi came to Little Rock 14 years ago from the Carmel-Clay Chamber of Commerce in Carmel, Indiana, a northern suburb of Indianapolis. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University where she participated in a year-long study abroad to Madrid, Spain, at the Complutense University of Madrid. She is a graduate of the International Economic Development Council’s Economic Development Institute and an Education Attainment Fellow from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. She also serves as Vice-Chair of the Little Rock Workforce Development Board. Kristi is married to Jason Barr and resides in Little Rock, Arkansas. Matthew C. Boch Member at Dover Dixon Horne PLLC
Matthew C. Boch is a member of Dover Dixon Horne PLLC in Little Rock. Matt advises clients on navigating state and local tax issues and leveraging economic development incentives to further their business goals. Matt represents clients seeking economic development incentives and regularly negotiates and implements incentive packages, helping clients address any obstacles that may arise along the way. Clients also rely on Matt for his multistate tax experience as well as his deep understanding of the Arkansas tax world. He guides clients through all the stages of tax controversies, from the point of an initial audit, through administrative appeals, and on to litigation when necessary. He advises companies on tax planning and compliance as well. As a leader in the field, Matt frequently publishes and speaks on tax and incentive issues for national and local organizations (IPT, COST, American Bar Association, Telestrategies, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Society of CPAs, etc.). As a leading Arkansas tax lawyer, Mr. Boch is a member and former chair of the Arkansas Tax Advisory Council, serves as Vice-Chair of the Arkansas Bar Association Section of Taxation, advises the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce Tax Committee, authors the Arkansas Tax and Incentives Update blog published by Dover Dixon Horne (http://www.doverdixonhorne.com/ARTaxandIncentivesUpdate), and also coauthors Bloomberg BNA’s Arkansas Corporate Income Tax Navigator and Arkansas Pass-Through Entity Navigator.
Jon Chadwell, CEcD Director of Newport Economic Development Commission
As Executive Director for the Newport Economic Development Commission, Jon Chadwell is actively involved in helping develop a rural Arkansas community. Through trial and error (plenty of errors) Jon has learned some things that work well and many that don’t. His personal goal is to keep in mind that the end result of developing any community is to improve the quality of life for the people who live there.
Jon received his Bachelor’s degree from Harding University in 1985. In 1997 he graduated from Community Development Institute at the University of Central Arkansas. His Master of Divinities degree was completed in 1999 from Harding Graduate School of Religion. Jon is a graduate of LeadAR Class 10. In 2003, he became a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council. Additional experience comes from Jon’s diverse job background. He has worked in a number of different economic development settings. A grant-writing job required that he lead 18 grassroots community groups through a comprehensive strategic planning process, which allowed the community to receive a major grant. Jon has also worked as a Main Street director, a Chamber Director, facilitator of three adult leadership programs and facilitator of a youth leadership program. The Newport Economic Development Commission is the third economic development group he has guided. Jon is married to Sheridan Chadwell and together they also own a small business in Newport, Purdy’s Flowers and Gifts. He has two children, Calli Chadwell, an independent insurance agent, and Jordan Chadwell, a computer specialist for Bass Pro Stores. LF Lisa Ferrell President at Rockwater Village/North Bluffs Development Shelby Fiegel, PCED Director - Center for Community & Econ. Dev. of UCA's Center for Community & Economic Development Shelby Fiegel, PCED Director - Center for Community & Econ. Dev. of UCA's Center for Community & Economic Development https://uca.edu/cdi/
Shelby Fiegel is the Director of the University of Central Arkansas Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) and the Community Development Institute (CDI). She is an Honors graduate of Arkansas State University and holds a degree in public relations and minors in marketing and English. Shelby is a certified Professional Community and Economic Developer (PCED), designated by the Community Development Council, and is a 2016 graduate of CDI.
She has also completed the Mid-South Basic Economic Development Course. In 2017 Shelby received the New Professional Award from the Arkansas Community Development Society. She currently serves as the Ex Officio (previously served as Vice President of Membership and as Vice President of Technology) for the Arkansas Community Development Society, serves as UCA Staff Senate Secretary, is a member of the Breakthrough Solutions Advisory Board, Arkansas Economic Developers and Chamber Executives, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the PRSA Arkansas Chapter. Shelby serves on the Conway Historic District Commission and is an Arkansas Municipal League City & Town magazine contributor. She is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Conway Area Leadership Institute (CALI) in 2017 and is a Certified Strategic Doing Workshop Leader. Laura Fine State Director of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center Laura Fine State Director of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center http://asbtdc.org/
Laura Fine is State Director of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), which is headquartered in the College of Business at UA Little Rock. The ASBTDC is funded by a statewide network of seven university-based offices in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
She leads a team of more than 35 professionals, support staff and students whose services assist small businesses in generating significant economic impact through capital acquisition, new business starts, and job creation and retention. Laura joined the ASBTDC in 1989, initially serving in training and communications roles. She was Assistant and then Associate State Director prior to being named State Director in 2017. Actively engaged in America’s SBDC, the national network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Laura currently serves on the Operations Committee and previously served on the Accreditation Committee. Laura earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from UA Little Rock and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas. A native of Mayflower, she and her husband, Milton, have one son and live in Little Rock. Jim Fram, CEcD CCE FM Principal & Founder of Community Growth Strategies, LLC
Jim Fram is a Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) through the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) and a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) with 30+ years successful economic development and senior level chamber of commerce management experience in Little Rock, AR, Bartlesville, OK, Killeen-Fort Hood, TX, Lincoln, NE, Tulsa, OK, and most recently Hot Springs, AR capping a highly successful career that began in Harrison, AR in the early 1980s.
Jim led (3) three Chambers of Commerce to Five Star Accreditation by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce (Lincoln, NE, Tulsa, OK, Hot Springs, AR). He also led (2) economic development organizations to accreditation by the International Economic Development Council (Tulsa, OK, and Hot Springs, AR). In January of 2018, he fulfilled a longtime dream and founded Community Growth Strategies, LLC., a consulting firm that focuses on small to medium-sized communities as well as regional economic development efforts. His office is in his home at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri where his wife, Kelli is the Director of the Lake of the Ozarks Columbia College Campus. Jim is the firm’s only employee and restricts his client base mostly to Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas focusing on bringing success to small and medium size communities. Jim maintains professional working relationships with a myriad of consultants he has worked with over the course of his career who can be called upon when needed for their specialized skills. Jim maintains a membership in the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) where he serves on an accrediting Board. He is also a member of statewide professional economic development organizations in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. He is an Honorary Life Member of the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) and a Fellow Member (FM) of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). He is also a frequent instructor, moderator, and guest speaker for many economic development and Chamber of Commerce organizations, conferences, and events across the country. Danny Games, CEcD, EDFP Director of Business & Economic Development at Entergy Arkansas
Danny Games is the Director of Business & Economic Development for Entergy Arkansas. Based in Little Rock, Entergy’s team of economic development professionals focuses on assisting the state and local communities in becoming more competitive for attracting new businesses and supporting existing businesses throughout the Entergy Arkansas service territory.
Games came to Entergy from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) where he served as the Executive Vice President of Global Business under Governor Asa Hutchinson. Games has more than 16 years of economic development experience at state and local levels, and over 17 years of experience in management positions with BHP, Chesapeake Energy, AEDC and Entergy Arkansas. He holds a Master of Science degree in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi and earned his Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) certification from the International Economic Development Council and Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) certification from the National Development Council. Katherine Holmstrom, PCED Senior Project Manager, Business Development at Arkansas Economic Development Commission Katherine Holmstrom, PCED Senior Project Manager, Business Development at Arkansas Economic Development Commission https://www.arkansasedc.com
Katherine Holmstrom is a Senior Project Manager in the Business Development Division at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). Her primary responsibility is facilitating the growth of both new and expanding companies in Arkansas including recruitment and expansion projects. Since becoming a project manager she has worked with companies such as Mars Petcare, Simmons Foods, Walmart, Tyson, Aerojet Rocketdyne, SAF Holland, FMH Conveyors and American Airlines to help them expand or locate within the state.
Katherine has 12 years of community and economic development experience in Arkansas. Prior to joining AEDC in 2011, Katherine worked for Arkansas Congressman Marion Berry in several distinct roles including constituent services, appropriations management, community development, and intergovernmental affairs. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Ag Business from Arkansas State University. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute, the University of Central Arkansas’s Community Development Institute and the Delta Regional Authority’s Delta Leadership Institute. She also serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors of Arkansas Economic Developers and Chamber Executives (AEDCE), the professional association of economic developers in the state. Brandon Horvath, EDFP Capital Access Specialist at Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center Brandon Horvath, EDFP Capital Access Specialist at Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center http://asbtdc.org/
Brandon Horvath became the capital access specialist in April 2020. He is focused on increasing capital investment in ASBTDC client companies.
Horvath has long been acquainted with ASBTDC, most recently serving as director of the Henderson State University regional office from September 2018 to April 2020 and a business consultant from May 2014 through September 2017. He was also a franchise consultant with McDonald’s Corporation, where he worked with the largest franchise owner/operator in the U.S., executed new menu item and technology launches, and upheld the company’s brand standards. Brandon has a passion for working with new and seasoned small businesses and building stronger economies. He is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional with emphasis on Business Credit Analysis (EDFP-BCA). Linsley Kinkade, PCED Deputy Director, U.S. Programs of Winrock International
Linsley Kinkade, Deputy Director, U.S. Programs, is responsible for developing, managing and implementing entrepreneurship, innovative ecosystem, community and workforce development projects for Winrock’s U.S. projects.
Kinkade has worked directly with rural municipal and Native American tribe leaders in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma to build their capacity to improve their communities. She has mentored more than 60 community organizations across the three-state region. Kinkade’s development projects work directly with disadvantaged populations seeking training and support to enter the workforce and have led to the employment of more than 200 previously unemployed or underemployed Arkansans. She is a certified professional community and economic developer, earning her certification in 2012. She also serves on the Community Development Institute-Central Advisory Board. Prior to joining Winrock, Kinkade spent a number of years on Capitol Hill working for Rep. Vic Snyder and Sen. Blanche Lincoln. She has an in-depth understanding of the federal government grants and appropriations processes and has testified before Congress on rural development issues. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Arkansas. Nancy Lee McNew, CEcD, PCED Vice President, Economic Development
Nancy Lee McNew is the Vice President of Economic Development of the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County, Arkansas. She is an Honors graduate of Arkansas Tech University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Marketing. Nancy is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and a certified Professional Community and Economic Developer (PCED).
She has worked at the Alliance & Chamber for seven years. Nancy is a graduate of Leadership Pine Bluff, the Candidate Development Institute, the University of Central Arkansas Community Development Institute, and completed the Mid-South Basic Economic Development Course. She is a member of the International Economic Development Council’s Young Professional committee and the Jefferson County Young Professionals Network. Nancy also serves as 2nd Vice President on the Board of Directors of Arkansas Economic Developers and Chamber Executives (AEDCE), the professional association of chamber executives and economic developers in the state. Itzel Meador SBA Regional Manager of Sales & Business Development at Simmons Bank
Simmons Bank named Itzel Meador as Small Business Administration (SBA) Regional Manager of Sales & Business Development for its eight-state footprint in May 2019. Meador's responsibilities include SBA loan production, oversight of Simmons' SBA lending processes and customer experience.
Meador brings more than 20 years of experience to her role at Simmons, having previously served as vice president in the commercial lending group at Regions Bank in Arkansas. Prior to joining the Regions team in 2015, she spent 15 years at Arkansas Capital Corporation, an Arkansas nonprofit lending company that specialized in SBA lending. While at Arkansas Capital Corporation, Itzel Meador saw several small business applicants with good plans, drive, and determination but who could not meet normal banking requirements for commercial loans due to the risk of the business, lack of collateral, start-up nature, or seasonal nature of the venture. To overcome this problem and to provide a financial tool to help foster entrepreneurial growth in Arkansas, Ms. Meador became a strong proponent of utilizing the Small Business Administration Guaranty Programs, as well as the SBA 504 Program. Over the past 20 years, her determination to help small business owners has led to over $450 million dollars of financial assistance to small businesses using SBA loan products. Meador is a graduate of the University of TX (Dallas) with a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration. She serves on the board of RMI, Inc., the Children's Protection Center, and the Small Business Technology Development Center. She has received numerous awards and honors including the 2017 Regions Chairman's Club Award recipient, the 2016 RMA Commercial Banker of the Year, and the 2006 SBA Financial Advocate of the Year. Charles Parker Project Director of The Retail Coach
Charles Parker is a Project Director for The Retail Coach, a national municipal consulting firm that specializes in retail recruitment and development. Charles brings a strong background of economic research and entrepreneurship to his work with communities, which helps him build successful strategies for communities looking to attract new businesses, restaurants, and developers as well as revitalize their downtown districts. The Texas native earned his MBA from Mississippi State University and is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and Main Street America. Charles is a frequent speaker at conferences, municipal leagues, and economic organizations.
Mike Preston Secretary at Arkansas Department of Commerce
Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Michael “Mike” Preston executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) in March 2015 and Secretary of Commerce in July 2019. Preston is highly regarded as a leading advocate in economic development.
Over the years, Preston has made successful business recruitment trips to Japan, China, France, Germany, Israel, Cuba, Mexico, Italy, United Kingdom, New York City, and Silicon Valley. The trips continue to play an important role in the state’s economic development efforts and have led to more than 451 projects with companies signing agreements with AEDC to locate or expand in Arkansas. These companies are investing $9.24 billion and creating more than 19,794 new jobs. Before joining AEDC, he served six and a half years as the Vice President of Government Relations for Enterprise Florida, the state’s primary economic development organization. During his tenure at Enterprise Florida, he was part of the team that helped create more than 147,000 jobs, paying an average wage of $56,437, and generating $10.07 billion in capital investment. In 2018, Preston was selected to join The Wall Street Journal’s prestigious CEO Council. It is an invitation-only group that connects some of the world’s most ambitious and influential leaders to discuss the issues shaping the future. The members lead companies that collectively employ more than eight million people, generate $2.9 trillion in annual revenue, and represent 20 countries in a wide cross-section of industries. A 2005 graduate of the University of Florida, Mike and his wife Anne – along with their young son Pierce – are proud to call Arkansas home. They both volunteer in the community in a variety of ways, including the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Shelle Randall, CEcD Director of Workforce Development & Existing Industry at Jonesboro Unlimited
Shelle Randall is a Certified Economic Developer and staffing professional with over 16 years of experience in workforce development, talent attraction, project management, human resources, strategic planning, and business retention and expansion.
Since 2010 she has served as the Director of Workforce Development & Existing Industry for the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce and Jonesboro Unlimited. Shelle is accountable for building employer engagement, managing business retention and expansion, cultivating opportunities for collaboration between industry and education, and driving workforce development and quality of life efforts as they serve Jonesboro's overarching economic development strategy. Prior to joining the Jonesboro Chamber team, Shelle was Branch Manager for multiple offices of a national staffing service. Key responsibilities included managing operations and growing existing business by developing strategic partnerships and securing new business. She was responsible for annual revenues in excess of $10 million. Shelle was employed by a boutique investment banker in Fort Worth prior to moving to Jonesboro, and previous to that she worked for a defense contractor in Washington, D.C. Shelle earned a BS in Journalism and General Science from the University of Central Arkansas. She served on the Board of Directors for Arkansas Economic Developers & Chamber Executives (AEDCE), is a graduate of Leadership Jonesboro, and is a member of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club. James Reddish, CEcD Executive Vice President at Little Rock Regional Chamber
James Reddish joined the Little Rock Regional Chamber in March of 2018. In his capacity as Executive Vice President, James has responsibility for the chamber’s full suite of programs, events, communications, sales and member relations. He also provides strategic guidance to the chamber’s economic and workforce development team.
James came to the chamber from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) in Chicago, IL, where he worked in over a dozen states with communities of every size, on issues ranging from comprehensive supply/demand analysis to career pathway mapping. He helped multiple regions structure industry sector partnerships and collaborated with community leaders in their efforts to drive deeper alignment between educational offerings and economic growth. Prior to joining CAEL, James served as Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development for Greater Louisville Inc., where he led the organization’s program of work within economic development as well as education and workforce development. In 2014, James guided GLI through a fundamental redesign of its economic and workforce development efforts, creating a new approach to regional economic development which included fifteen counties across two states. In his time at GLI, James was involved in several significant initiatives including the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Business Plan for Louisville/Lexington as well as co-chairing the certification of Jefferson County Public Schools as a Ford Next Generation Learning community. As a project manager, James assisted 86 companies who combined to invest over $1.4 billion dollars in new capital and add nearly 5,000 new jobs within the region. A native of the Washington, DC metro area, James holds a bachelor of science degree from James Madison University and a master’s of arts degree from the University of Louisville. David Rumbarger, CEcD, FM President at Community Development Foundation
David Rumbarger has over 30 years of economic development/existing industry and chamber of commerce management. He has been involved in economic development at the state and local level and working with natural gas and electric utilities.
Since August 2000, David has served as president/CEO of the Community Development Foundation of Tupelo, Mississippi. Under his leadership, Tupelo/Lee County has experienced exceptional growth and diversification. His most recent recruit, Williams & Sonoma employs 185 and is growing to 350. Recently, Grammer Inc. USA, employing 450, now makes Tupelo its North American headquarters. In December 2008, David successfully led a team to retain the 1200 jobs at Cooper Tire and Rubber Plant. To date, that number has grown to 1750. The team then aimed higher, and in 2014, he helped Cooper secure an equipment upgrade of over 170 million dollars for the plant. Job retention is a constant goal for David, and in 2006, he pursued the designation of the U.S. Foreign Trade Zone #158. This trade zone saved approximately 950 sewing and furniture jobs. Through David’s efforts as the team marketing leader for the Wellspring Project site located in Pontotoc, Union, and Lee Counties, he played a pivotal role in locating Toyota’s Corolla Plant in North Mississippi. David made the first call in New York to market the Wellspring Project Site to Toyota leadership in 2006. That plant now employs 2200 with over 1.2 billion dollars of capital investment. Site Selection magazine ranked Tupelo/Lee County #5 for the year 2018 making the top 10 in that ranking 10 times since 2006 for micropolitan areas in projects, capital, and job growth. Southern Business and Development Magazine ranked Tupelo/Lee County #1 in small markets for the U.S. in 2008. Previously, David worked with North Carolina Power & Light and Energen/Alagasco. He was a cabinet member in Alabama working as director of economic and community development, ADECA. David and his wife, Donna have two grown children, a son who graduated from Mississippi State University and a daughter who graduated from the University of Mississippi. David graduated with a BS from Auburn University, holds a MS in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi and an Advanced Management Certificate from Duke University. He is an avid bike rider, turkey hunter and vintage car mechanic. Mark Young, CEcD President and CEO of Jonesboro Unlimited
Mark Young is President and CEO of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, serving in that capacity since April 2006. The mission of the Chamber is to enhance the quality of life in our community through service, leadership and economic development. Mark also leads the economic development organization, Jonesboro Unlimited, serving as President. Jonesboro Unlimited has recently embarked on a bold five- year strategic plan to increase prosperity in Jonesboro.
Prior to being named President of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, Mark served as Executive Director of the Delta Center for Economic Development at Arkansas State University from 2000 to April 2006. Mark has provided economic development leadership in four other communities. He served as the Director of the Cross County Business Development Center in Wynne and as Director of the East Arkansas Community College Business Development Center in Forrest City. He then left Arkansas to serve as Executive Director of the Miami Area Economic Development Services, Inc. in Miami, Oklahoma, and served as Executive Director of the Richmond Economic Partnership in Rockingham, North Carolina. Mark received his B.S. in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations from Arkansas State University. He is a Certified Economic Developer, receiving that designation in 1994. Mark serves on the Arkansas District Export Council and is currently the Chairman of the Northeast Arkansas Economic Development Coalition. Mark is married to Mitzi. They have two sons- Adam and Alex. Shelley Short, IOM Vice President, Programs & Partnerships at Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/AIA
Shelley is responsible for the development, management and execution of the chamber’s programs and strategic partnerships. She also serves as the executive director of Arkansas Economic Developers & Chamber Executives (AEDCE), the professional association of local chamber executives and economic developers in the state. Shelley is a native Arkansan with more than thirteen years of economic development experience, most recently serving as the Director of Marketing for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission before joining the State Chamber in 2015. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Management from Regent University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Central Arkansas. Shelley serves on the Arkansas Department of Education State Coalition for Family and Community Engagement, the Board of Directors for the MAKO Conference, and is a member of the Census 2020 Arkansas Counts Complete Count Committee. She is a member of the International Economic Development Council, the Southern Economic Development Council and is a graduate of the US Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute.
Jeff Standridge Managing Director of AR Conductor
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Formerly a Vice President for Acxiom Corporation, he has led established and startup business units in North & South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Jeff serves as Managing Director for the Conductor (www.ARConductor.org), is Co-founder of Cadron Capital Partners, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA.edu).
Dr. Standridge has been an invited speaker, trainer and consultant for numerous companies, institutions and organizations across five continents. He and his wife, Lori, make their home in Conway, Arkansas. In addition to his executive coaching and custom-tailored consulting, he has received accolades for his World Class presentations, training programs and workshops. Bentley Story Director, Business Development of Arkansas Economic Development Commission
Bentley Story is the Director of the Business Development Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). A native of Forrest City, Arkansas, Bentley began working at AEDC in 2007 as a Project Manager working with companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Dillard’s, Windstream and Kimberly-Clark. In 2012 he was promoted to Division Director, where he oversees the work of a professional team of project managers, international representatives, and community developers who are responsible for recruiting new business to Arkansas, helping existing businesses grow, and preparing communities to take advantage of economic development opportunities.
Under Bentley’s leadership, the Business Development Division has seen project announcements resulting in more than 25,000 jobs statewide, and more than $13 billion in investment in the state of Arkansas. In 2013, Bentley and the AEDC team oversaw the state’s first Amendment 82 project, resulting in the completion of a $1.3 billion steel mill in Mississippi County that employs more than 500 people who earn an average salary of $75,000 per year. This project remains the largest investment to date in Arkansas. Other companies that have located or expanded in Arkansas since 2012 include Sprint, Remington, Sig Sauer, J.B. Hunt, HanesBrands, TrinityRail, and MISO. Prior to coming to AEDC, Bentley worked as a budget analyst with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, where he analyzed and reconciled state budgets totaling over $4 billion. He has also worked in Tyson Foods’ Corporate Strategy Division and served as a consultant to the Northwest Arkansas Museum Foundation. Bentley has served as a member of the Arkansas Economic Developers Board and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. In 2015 & 2017, he was selected by Consultant Connect as one of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers. Bentley is a member of the Baptist Health Foundation Associate Board, has been a frequent volunteer for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and has served as a judge for the Governor’s Cup Business Plan Competition. Bentley is a graduate of the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration. He and his wife, Amanda, live in Little Rock with their daughter, Virginia and son, Bentley. Jim Walton CEO of Brand Acceleration
With more than three decades of experience, Jim Walton is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading experts in economic development marketing. A powerful ally for economic development professionals, Brand Coach Jim is regularly invited to share his knowledge about community branding and location marketing at conferences and meetings. Audiences appreciate the practical, actionable advice he delivers.
Active in many state, regional, and national economic development organizations, Jim is a graduate of the Basic Economic Development Course at Ball State University. He is currently teaching the marketing sessions for the Indiana Basic Economic Development Course, the Ohio Basic Economic Development Course, and the Mid-South Basic Economic Development Course. Sarah White Principal & VP of Site Selection at Global Location Strategies
Sarah has worked in site selection and economic development her entire career. Her first experience was a three-year internship with the South Carolina Department of Commerce's (SCDOC) Coordinating Council for Economic Development, the incentive granting entity for the state. She then joined McCallum Sweeney Consulting for 10 years to advise corporations on their location strategy. Her experience included conducting property evaluations, workforce analysis, and incentive negotiations in the industry sectors of manufacturing, distribution, and office headquarters. Prior to joining GLS in 2019, Sarah was Director at Quest Site Solutions, a spin-off of McCallum Sweeney, where she facilitated site selection services for industrial clients as well as provided economic development consulting services.
Sarah enjoys matching corporations with communities, to facilitate mutual success. Her site selection efforts have taken her across hundreds of locations across the United States, with her projects investing hundreds of millions of dollars and creating thousands of jobs. Corporate clients have included the likes of Freshpet, Walmart, Dollar General, Hertz, and numerous others.