Winrock International, Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub merge; Governor praises the move

by Steve Brawner (BRAWNERSTEVE@MAC.COM) 148 views 

Winrock International is combining with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, the two nonprofit groups announced Wednesday at Winrock International’s headquarters in Little Rock. The merger is effective immediately.

State Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, the Innovation Hub’s executive director, will be senior director of U.S. programs at Winrock International. He said the opportunity initially was discussed almost one year ago. He said the two programs have been working together since the Hub was formed.

“We are delighted to bring our organizations together, because Winrock can elevate and amplify the impact of the Innovation Hub, and the Innovation Hub can bring a dynamic new dimension to Winrock’s U.S. Programs,” Sabin said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to further establish Arkansas as a global leader in innovative strategies for community and economic development, thereby sustaining and honoring the legacy of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.”

He succeeds the recently retired Annett Pagan in that position. The Innovation Hub’s work will continue without changes to staff or programs.

Winrock International empowers disadvantaged people, creates economic opportunity and sustains natural resources through 120 programs in 46 countries. It focuses on social, agricultural and environmental issues. It grew from the estate of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller.

Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, which is based in North Little Rock, creates a collaborative ecosystem to increase economic and entrepreneurial activities. The Hub includes space with 3D printers and advanced computer technology; arts and design studios; and workspace for entrepreneurs to collaborate.

Rodney Ferguson, Winrock International president and CEO, said that the announcement is a “reaffirmation of our commitment to Arkansas and this region.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at the announcement, “I’m here because this is important to the state of Arkansas. … I’ve always said you can run the world from Arkansas if you’re connected. And we in this state, whether in retail or in agriculture can lead the world right here from Arkansas with the right kind of innovation.”

In a prepared statement, Hutchinson noted: “Two of Arkansas’s most interesting and innovative nonprofits are coming together and this has not only local, but national and international implications as well. This will spur real economic and community growth in our state workforce training, manufacturing, agriculture and, especially the Arkansas knowledge industry.”