Gary Newton Launches Arkansas Learns, Leaves Little Rock Chamber

Gary Newton, executive vice president of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, announced Tuesday that he has left the chamber to launch Arkansas Learns, a new nonprofit focused on education reform.

According to a news release, the nonprofit is funded by a Walton Family Foundation grant and "is projected to be independent and self-sustaining." Newton is Arkansas Learns' president and CEO.

On its website,, the group describes itself as a nonpartisan alliance of employers "dedicated to excellent education for all students to ensure the talent and workforce necessary for Arkansas to successfully compete in a global economy."

"Over the years, I have had offers to lead other chambers -- Jefferson City, Mo., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, among others -- but the opportunity for professional advancement and personal reward have never trumped my desire to do what I love in a place I love," Newton said in a news release.