Arkansas Venture Center Names Operations Team

by Mark Carter  on Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 10:56 am  

Gov. Mike Beebe helped officially launch the AVC in May. The AVC on Wednesday announced its operations team funded through a state matching grant. (Photo by Mark Carter)

The Arkansas Venture Center announced Wednesday the installment of an operational team that marks the nonprofit organization's first official hirings since its launch in May.

Joining AVC co-founder, president and CEO Lee Watson on staff are Caroline Ford as director of communications and development and Marshal Kenneday as director of operations.

AVC was founded in 2013 and officially launched in May with a $500,000 matching grant from the state. It serves local entrepreneurs with nationally recognized networking and mentorship programs. 

A former mentor and business school educator, Ford most recently worked for Hendrix College in Conway.

"Caroline brings 20 years of bootstrap marketing and business development experience working with startups and emerging growth companies," Watson said.

Kenneday will oversee member growth and programming for the AVC including the September launch of a nationally renowned entrepreneur accelerator course, Watson said. Kenneday most recently managed profit-and-loss and best-practice processes for 140 restaurant franchisees in the Houston, Texas, area.

The Venture Center was founded in 2013 by a group led by Watson, a designated Startup America champion and serial entrepreneur who founded Conway digital media agency Clarovista and Startup Arkansas.

Currently housed within the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce in downtown Little Rock, the AVC collaborates with the Chamber on entrepreneurial programs and initiatives such as 1 Million Cups, Build It and a series of women founders meetups

Jordan Carlisle, director of entrepreneurship and innovation for the Little Rock Chamber and one of the AVC's co-founders, serves as the Chamber's AVC liaison.

The AVC is scheduled to move across the street later this year into space along East Markham that is being prepped for the fall run of the 2014 ARK Challenge startup accelerator. Once the ARK is complete in November, the AVC will take over the roughly 8,000-SF space in the Block 2 building. 



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