Key leaders from Arkansas businesses, research universities, philanthropic organizations and state agencies will form the new Arkansas Innovation Council, appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The founding members are:
- Donald Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System;
- Albert Braunfisch, chairman of MSpark;
- Amy Callahan, co-founder of Collective Bias;
- Ross DeVol, a Walton Family Foundation Fellow;
- William T. Dillard III, executive vice president of Dillard’s Inc.;
- George Dunklin Jr. of Dunklin Farms;
- Richard Howe, CEO of Inuvo;
- Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc.;
- Judy McReynolds, chairman, president and CEO of ArcBest Corp.;
- Jeffrey Nolan Jr., president and CEO of Loutre Land and Timber Co.;
- Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences;
- Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission;
- John Rutledge, president of First Security Bank;
- Cheryl Schluterman, interim president of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority;
- Josh Smith, CEO of Metova Inc.;
- Warren Stephens, chairman, president and CEO of Stephens Inc.;
- Chuck Welch, president of the Arkansas State University System;
- Troy Wells, president and CEO of Baptist Health; and
- Noel White, president and CEO of Tyson Foods Inc.
The council will meet twice a year, with the governor serving as its chair. The first meeting is set for Feb. 19 at the Robinson Center in Little Rock.
"The long-term success of our state will hinge on the development and expansion of Arkansas’ knowledge-based, technology-driven economy," Hutchinson said in a news release. "We can accelerate our development if we draw on the experience of a diverse group of key leaders. The members of this council are to partner with me to identify resources and skills that will transform the ability of businesses to grow in Arkansas."
The council will work with the governor to identify gaps and seek new ideas, initiatives and recommendations to form a strategic plan complete with specific action steps that Arkansas businesses, higher education institutions, nonprofits and government agencies can use to create a measurable expansion of the state’s knowledge-based economy.
The council will also focus the following: retail, retail technology, transportation, distribution, logistics, agriculture, food processing, forestry, natural resources, health care, biosciences, financial services, data sciences, advanced analytics, software development, energy and power electronics.
Innovate Arkansas, a program administered by Winrock International, will coordinate the council’s activities.