Former Gov. Mike Beebe will be the keynote speaker for the second Under 40 Forum, scheduled for March 2-3 at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton.
The forum, which held its first installment last year, is a partnership among the institute, the Clinton School of Public Service, Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.
The two-day event gathers the 2016 40 Under 40 honorees from both newspapers to discuss issues important to the state.
"The basic idea is that we provide time and space for up-and-coming leaders in the state (as designated by the two business publications) to build connections and thoughtfully engage in dialogue about challenges and/or opportunities facing Arkansas," said Jeff LeMaster, director of communications and marketing for the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
"The most beneficial aspect of the forum was collaborating with a geographically diverse, interdisciplinary group," said Lori Burrows, vice president and general counsel at Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., and attendee of last year's forum. "The exercises we undertook heightened my awareness of the commonality of the issues we all face — no matter where we live and no matter what we personally value."
Beebe's address will kick off the event, followed by an afternoon of facilitated discussions. By the end of the two-day forum, the Clinton School and Winthrop Rockefeller Institute will compile the results of the facilitated discussions to produce a report they will share with political, business and community leaders across the state.
Last year's forum, which included a question-and-answer session by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, focused on ways to recruit and retain young talent in Arkansas. One of the recommendations in the 2016 report was to restore funding and focus on state marketing efforts aimed at recruiting people and families to Arkansas.
More: The full report is available here.
"Funding specific to supporting these marketing efforts has been restored to the Department of Arkansas Parks & Tourism," said Jonathan Rhodes, a community developer of Cherokee Village who is also president of American Land Co.
Rhodes, who also leads King-Rhodes & Associates and River Country Tours, was an attendee of last year's forum.
"Additionally, there have been a series of meetings to follow up with the governor, Kane Webb at Parks & Tourism, Mike Preston at [the] Economic Development Commission and other key stakeholders to think of more strategic ways for Arkansas to promote itself as a destination for individuals and families who are seeking to relocate for better quality of life, for jobs, to start a business or to retire," Rhodes said.
LeMaster said more than 30 40 Under 40 honorees attended the forum last year, and this year's forum expects close to 40 attendees.