Young leaders from across the state have identified key issues for retaining and recruiting young talent to Arkansas, including education initiatives and the marketing and branding of the state.
The issues are contained in a report composed by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and released Wednesday. The report is the result of the first Under 40 Forum, a two-day summit held in April by the institute and the Clinton School of Public Service.
More: The full report is available here.
“We hope that it gives leaders within the state within government and business a new perspective on the priorities of this younger generation and their outlook on the future of Arkansas as it pertains to bringing in and retaining talented people,” said Jeff LeMaster, director of communications and marketing at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
The summit brought together more than 30 of the 2015 40 Under 40 honorees as designated by Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. The attendees participated in facilitated discussions about opportunities and hurdles related to talent recruitment and retention.
The forum began with a keynote address and question-and-answer session with Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
“This report is important because it represents the next generation of leaders in Arkansas,” Marta Loyd, executive director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute said in a news release. “These leaders chose to make a life in Arkansas, and they were forthright in articulating the challenges and opportunities they’re facing. Through participation in the Forum, they came to realize their role in being a part of the solution. We hope state and community leaders will heed their recommendations.”
Among the highlights of the report are recommendations for businesses and government to do more to embrace diversity; expansion of the state’s pre-K opportunities; and commitment to increasing broadband access across the state.
Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, said that many of the issues addressed in the report are not new concepts but are meaningful because of the people the report comes from.
“These young leaders represent the future of our state,” Rutherford said. “They are engaged; they are smart; and they know what it will take for Arkansas to realize all of its potential. This is a group whose voices need to be heard.”
Copies of the report are being sent to each member of the Legislature, as well as other government and business leaders across Arkansas, including Hutchinson.
“There’s not a specific call to action but we hope to get good feedback from the recipients of the report,” LeMaster said. “It’s open to the public, it’s on our website, we hope it starts a larger conversation about what retaining and recruiting talent means for Arkansas in the coming years.”
The second Under 40 Forum is scheduled for March 2-3. According to LeMaster, the forum will focus on a new theme that’s yet to be determined. The event’s format will likely stay the same.
“We anticipate that attendance will increase,” LeMaster said “This was the inaugural event — we didn’t have expectations that all 80 or close to it would attend, but now there’s a context of what this event is, and hopefully there will be more participation next year. We’re sending a copy of the report to the list of this year’s 40s to get the ball rolling.”