Rex Nelson named 2016 Arkansas Rural Advocate of the Year

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 211 views 

Rex Nelson, director of corporate community relations for Simmons Bank, has been named Rural Advocate of the Year for 2016.

The honor was presented to Nelson on Thursday (May 26) by Gov. Asa Hutchinson on behalf of AEDC’s Division of Rural Services and the Arkansas Rural Development Commission at their annual Rural Development Conference, which was held May 24-26 at the John Q. Hammons Center and Embassy Suites in Rogers.

“Rex Nelson could not be more deserving of this award,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “I cannot imagine anyone who advocates more for rural Arkansas than Rex does. His passion for this state knows no boundaries. He has a heart for public service and has always gone the extra mile to advocate for rural development from the Delta to the Ozarks.”

Nelson has had a long career in government, journalism and public affairs. He has been honored through the years by organizations as varied as the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, the Arkansas Municipal League and the Arkansas chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. He is viewed as an expert on Arkansas history, Southern culture and Southern politics and has appeared on radio and television stations across the country.

Rex Nelson, director of corporate community relations for Simmons Bank
Rex Nelson, director of corporate community relations for Simmons Bank

Nelson writes a weekly column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the state’s largest newspaper, and is the author of the popular “Southern Fried” blog. His feature stories regularly appear in magazines such as Arkansas Life and Talk Business & Politics.

He has extensive contacts in Washington, was named by President George W. Bush in 2005 as one of the president’s two appointees to the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), a regional planning and economic development agency that serves 252 counties and parishes in parts of eight states. He served at the DRA for almost four years and became a leading spokesman on Delta issues.

Last year’s recipient was Sam Angel of Lake Village, a former state representative. Past recipients have included many outstanding Arkansans who have been dedicated to rural Arkansas: former U.S. Senators Dale Bumpers and David Pryor, Secretary of Agriculture Butch Calhoun, State Senators Larry Teague, Randy Laverty and James Scott, State Representatives Phil Jacobs and Johnnie Bolin, Lake Village Mayor Jo Ann Bush, Annett Pagan, Donna Kay Yeargan, Former ARDC Chairman Bruce Leggitt, Sip Mouden, Randy Young, and Bob Summerville.