In a report released Wednesday, leaders under the age of 40 from across the state identified key issues for retaining and recruiting young talent to Arkansas.
The report, composed by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, is the result of the Under 40 Forum, a two-day summit held April 1-2 by the Institute and the Clinton School of Public Service. The summit brought together the 2015 40 Under 40 honorees as designated by Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. More than 30 of the honorees attended and participated in a facilitated discussion about opportunities and hurdles related to talent recruitment and retention. This was the first meeting of its kind with the Under 40 honorees.
Among the highlights of the report are recommendations for businesses and government to do more to embrace diversity; expansion of the state’s pre-K opportunities; and commitment to increasing broadband access across the state.
“This report is important because it represents the next generation of leaders in Arkansas,” Dr. Marta Loyd, executive director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, said in a news release. “These leaders chose to make a life in Arkansas, and they were forthright in articulating the challenges and opportunities they’re facing. Through participation in the Forum, they came to realize their role in being a part of the solution. We hope state and community leaders will heed their recommendations.”
Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, said that while many of the issues addressed in the report are not brand-new concepts, what makes it meaningful is the group from which it comes.
“These young leaders represent the future of our state,” Rutherford said in the release. “They are engaged; they are smart; and they know what it will take for Arkansas to realize all of its potential. This is a group whose voices need to be heard.”
Copies of the report are being sent to each member of the Legislature, as well as other government and business leaders across Arkansas, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson kicked off the Under 40 Forum in April with an address and question-and-answer session with the attendees. In his address, he praised the group for their willingness to engage in a search for solutions to the state’s most pressing challenges.
“You are really a key part of the success we’re going to have in the future,” Hutchinson said to close his address to the honorees.
The report can be downloaded by visiting www.rockefellerinstitute.org/Under40Report.
Plans for the second annual Under 40 Forum have been set for March 2017.