Innovation Hub's Christopher Jones Finds Economic Dedication Across Arkansas

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Apr. 9, 2018 12:00 am   2 min read

Christopher Jones
Executive Director & Lead Maker of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub (Jason Burt)

Christopher Jones is the Executive Director & Lead Maker of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. He has served as executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston, as a principal at BCT partners and as assistant dean for graduate education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jones holds five degrees, including a bachelor’s in mathematics and a bachelor’s in physics from Morehouse College in Atlanta; a master’s in nuclear engineering, a master’s in technology and policy and a Ph.D. in urban studies and planning, all from MIT.

A Pine Bluff native, Jones participated in an 18-month study on the future of nuclear power and spent one year as an algebra teacher in Boston.

What is the Hub’s mission, and how will you work to ensure the organization is financially sustainable?
The Hub is about to embark on an inclusive, strategic planning process, and I expect that, through this process, key stakeholders will work to clarify our mission, vision and values and to solidify the role that we must play in the community … Through the strategic planning process, we will work to develop a business model that is not only mission-aligned but that also increases our ability to be financially sustainable.

What role do you see the Hub playing in the emerging local ecosystem that includes the Little Rock Technology Park, the Venture Center, Conway’s Conductor, Startup Junkie in northwest Arkansas and others?
I believe that these are all very important players in the emerging local and state ecosystem. What’s beautiful is that Winrock International is working hard to bring real coordination between us. And, now, it is incumbent upon each of us to work collaboratively as we focus on growing and strengthening the network of local systems that make up the larger Arkansas innovation ecosystem.

What does it mean to be a “lead maker”?
I’m an engineer at heart, which means I love to solve problems and create. Lead maker simply means that I am one component of Arkansas’ maker community.

What is the maker movement?
The maker movement means something different to each person. To me, the maker movement is about helping people release their inner creativity by providing every tool they could ever want and need to “make stuff.” I also believe that the movement is about transforming the economic landscape of a region and having a direct impact on people’s lives and well-being.

What has been your greatest mistake as a professional, and what did you learn from it?
My greatest professional mistake was making a very hard and important decision without first seeking out and listening to the wisdom of others. Through that, I learned that, when I go it alone, my mistake is always magnified.

How did your background prepare you for this role?
I have been fortunate to have direct experience in each aspect of this role. That said, I think the most significant preparation came in learning how to listen. This role requires truly listening to a broad range of people, actively seeking to find the gems in every conversation, and then taking action to make those gems a reality.



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