Gov. Asa Hutchinson will be the featured luncheon speaker at a conference on the future of the Arkansas Delta on May 19 at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
Simmons Bank will sponsor the one-day event, now in its second year. "The Arkansas Delta: Why It Still Matters" is "designed to help community leaders network with each other and discuss how to deal with a declining population base," the bank said in a news release.
The conference will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. A catfish lunch will be served. There's no registration fee, but those planning to attend are required to register in advance here.
Simmons Bank, whose parent company is headquartered in Pine Bluff, has invited all members of the state Legislature, county officials and city officials to attend the event. Co-chairmen are Raymond Abramson of Holly Grove and Ritter Arnold of Marked Tree.
Other speakers include:
- Laurence Alexander, chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, who will discuss the importance of higher education in the Delta.
- Mike Preston, the executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, who will speak on economic development strategies for the region.
- Randy Zook, a Delta native who now leads the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
- Robert Moore Jr. of Arkansas City, a member of the Arkansas Highway Commission and a longtime Delta advocate.
- Fitz Hill, the former president of Arkansas Baptist College, who will speak on the importance of mentors for Delta youth.
- Dr. Shane Speights, the site dean for the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, who will talk about the need for more doctors in the Delta.
- Kane Webb, the executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, who will speak about efforts to increase Delta tourism.
- Scott Simon, the director of the Nature Conservancy's Arkansas chapter, who will discuss conservation efforts in the region.
- Ruth Hawkins, the director of the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program, who will talk about Delta heritage and how it can tie into economic development.