For three days, state legislators, mayors, county judges, and state and federal officials will join community leaders at the annual Arkansas Rural Development Conference. This year’s conference, to be held May 23-25 at the Hot Springs Convention Center, will be hosted by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Rural Services Division and the Arkansas Rural Development Commission.
The conference is ideal for anyone interested in improving economic conditions in Arkansas’ rural communities. Participants will have the opportunity to gain a working knowledge about a variety of programs and services specifically designed to assist rural communities and their leaders with development, planning, and revitalization efforts. In addition, legislators will have an opportunity to meet and gain vital feedback from leaders throughout the state.
“We’re honored to bring people from across the state together to share their ideas and success stories for rural development,” said Alex Johnston, director of AEDC’s Rural Services Division. “Arkansas is a small state, with more than 80% of our state’s population living in rural areas. We need these communities to thrive if we want our state’s economy to grow.”
This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Governor Asa Hutchinson on Thursday, May 25. Wednesday’s luncheon address by Kane Webb, director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, will focus on the impact tourism has on economic development. More than 28 million visitors to Arkansas in 2015 spent more than $7.2 billion and paid more than $500 million in state and local taxes.
Other highlights include:
- Welcome address by Craig O’Neil with THV11.
- Panel topics regarding:
- Tourism and economic development (in addition to Kane Webb’s address)
- Entrepreneurship and accelerators
- Funding resources
- Site selection
- Competing for new business
- Medical marijuana
- Government efficiencies
- A political roundtable moderated by Talk Business & Politics’ Roby Brock with:
- Speaker Jeremy Gillam
- President Pro Tempe Jonathan Dismang
- Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson
- Sen. Larry Teague
- Sen. Dave Wallace
- Rep. Joe Jett
- Rep. Dan Douglas
- Rep. Michelle Gray
- An optional Insurance Services Office (ISO) ratings training session.