The Conductor and the Conway Foundation recently partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to host the Arkansas Entrepreneurial Policy Summit. The summit, which took place at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute April 27-29, was held to address specific needs of entrepreneurs in the five regions of Arkansas and identify policy solutions for local, state and federal policymakers to adopt to lower barriers for entrepreneurship in the state.
The Conductor is a public-private partnership with the University of Central Arkansas and Fayetteville’s Startup Junkie that drives innovation, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment in central Arkansas.
“I commend the state coming together on this great project to have a regional policy summit to support our entrepreneurs. This summit, held at the beautiful Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean, encouraged the enhancement of our venture ecosystems and entrepreneurship here in Arkansas. Thank you to Jeff Standridge, and the Conductor for their leadership,” said Congressman French Hill.
A pre-event survey sent to Arkansas entrepreneurs guided the discussion on challenges entrepreneurs face. Regional groups from Central, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast came prepared to voice concerns from their local entrepreneurs, then worked on a list of issues and parallel policy recommendations to address the challenges.
“Understanding the needs of entrepreneurs and the regulatory environment in which entrepreneurship is taking place is key to better support and grow small businesses in our state,” said Ericka Gutierrez, Outreach & Engagement manager at Conductor. “The entrepreneurial policy summit allowed for great discussions and a better understanding of challenges across the state as well as innovative ideas and solutions to address those challenges. We are looking forward to the continued collaboration and the positive change we can create when we work together for a better entrepreneurial future.”
Guest speakers included Evan Absher with the Kauffman Foundation, and Congressman French Hill. The summit concluded with a panel discussion from Jeff Amerine with Startup Junkie, Clint O’Neal and Bob Kuchevary from the AEDC, and Kenny Hall with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, moderated by Jamie Gates with Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.
Following the Arkansas Entrepreneurial Policy Summit, the Conductor team will take policy recommendations made by each regional group and utilize those to update the Arkansas Entrepreneurial Policy Map. The project builds on the policy map released by the Conductor last year, which created a Four Pillar framework for advocating for policies that support entrepreneurs, innovators and makers across the state.
The statewide Arkansas Entrepreneurial Policy Map, developed by the Conductor, can be found here: https://www.arconductor.org/
The updated policy map is expected to be released later this year. The Arkansas Entrepreneurial Policy Map can be used by economic development groups, entrepreneurial support organizations, and community leaders to advocate for policies that reduce barriers for Arkansas entrepreneurs on a local, state and national level.