A capacity crowd in the Ozan suite of Hempstead Hall for the Southwest Arkansas Rural Business Development Conference on Friday heard that regional partnerships and resources were the key to rural business development.

A capacity crowd in the Ozan suite of Hempstead Hall for the Southwest Arkansas Rural Business Development Conference on Friday heard that regional partnerships and resources were the key to rural business development.
Keynote speaker David Moody of the US Small Business Administration said, “Resources and help are out there; people must not be hesitant about engaging help and resources.”
UA Hope Chancellor Chris Thomasson said, “Regional partnerships are the key to growing business and industry here. We are building partnerships in Hope and Texarkana, and we have a great opportunities through the I-30 corridor from here to Malvern.”
The day long symposium for small business owners as aspiring entrepreneurs was sponsored by the Arkansas Human Development Corp. along with the USDA, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, ASBTDC, and the Hope Hempstead Chamber of Commerce.
Also sponsoring were the Small Business Administration, US Dept. of Labor, and all of the local banking institutions.
The early portion of the program started off with a “Breakfast with the Lenders,” where representatives of banks, like Donny Hughes of BanCorp South and Chris Cleary of the Bank of the Ozarks, spoke as well as Brian Lee and Steve Harris.
Harris, of the Hempstead County Economic Development Association, also took questions from local persons on issues of local economic development efforts.
Moody, based in Little Rock as the state’s deputy SBA director since July, previously had a background in NASA through the Presidential Management Internship Program.  He worked in the aerospace industry for 13 years, serving as a program analyst, manager and consultant for the Shuttle, Space Lab and Space Station programs.
Moody’s speech focused on available help and resources, but he also said that entrepreneurship is a process that required patience and skills to perfect.
“For athletes, who are often seen as overnight successes, there has been thousands of hours of practice and preparation before they reach that level, even from the time they were small kids,” he said.
Moody noted the average adult, who graduates at age 25, takes 15 years to master a skill or profession.
“By that time, someone wanting to go out on their own is 40-years old,” he said.
Moody advocated that entrepreneurship should be seen much as athletics, and he believed young people should get started in “business training,” much earlier in life.
Thomasson noted that UA-Hope had graduated its largest classes over the past three years, and said “We’ve granted more degrees and certificates in the last three years than we have the previous 25 years.”
Thomasson said that UA-Hope has also seen its largest fall enrollments over the past four years, including a near record enrollment in the current 2017 fall semester.
“Thirty-four percent of our enrollment is from Hempstead County; that means we are pulling another 66-percent from throughout a regional area. It shows that together we must think in regional terms, and we can succeed as a region,” he said.