In a report released on Monday, leaders under the age of 40 from across the state made recommendations to increase positive awareness about Arkansas to those within and outside the state. The report was presented to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and key staff by members of the Under 40 Forum and representatives from the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
The report is the result of the third annual Under 40 Forum, a two-day summit held April 5-6 by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the Clinton School of Public Service on the Institute’s campus atop Petit Jean Mountain. The summit brought together the 2017 Forty Under 40 honorees as designated by Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. More than 30 of the honorees attended and participated in facilitated discussions about “Building a Better Brand” for Arkansas.
Among the highlights of the report are recommendations for a public-private partnership to create an internal marketing campaign; adopting the hashtag #ARHome to highlight what Arkansans believe is unique and special about the state; and a commitment to increasing arts education in public schools to encourage future growth of the creative economy.
“The leaders who participated in the Forum compete with businesses in surrounding states for our region’s best talent,” said Dr. Marta Loyd, executive director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. “The participants told us Arkansas can be a difficult sell, but as soon as people settle here and experience all our state has to offer, they become great ambassadors. During the Forum the Under 40 honorees identified ways Arkansas’s brand can be positive and motivating so young talent inside the state choose to stay, and those outside the state can’t wait to move here.”
Copies of the report are being sent to each member of the Legislature, as well as other government and business leaders across Arkansas.
“Every part of Arkansas, like every part of any state, encounters difficulties and challenges,” said Skip Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service. “The participants brought their criticisms of Arkansas’s current brand to the Forum, but also their ideas for how we can improve upon and possibly change the narrative of our state. Their recommendations touched upon government, private and public institutions, and it will be those far-reaching and collaborative initiatives that can move the needle for Arkansas.”
The report can be downloaded online. Plans for the fourth annual Under 40 Forum have been set for April 2019.