Mike Malone is about to start a new chapter in his professional career, and what a chapter it appears to be.
Malone, 47, is leaving the Northwest Arkansas Council next month after leading the nonprofit organization as president and CEO since 2006. He said it’s an intriguing time for new leadership at the Council, which is scheduled to start another round of economic development strategy planning in 2017.
“To me, that would be very tempting for someone to be able to come in and have a role of crafting strategy for both the organization and the region moving forward,” he says.
Malone’s last day at the Council is Sept. 15. After that, he’ll go to work in Bentonville for Steuart Walton and Tom Walton as part of a personal business team led by the two brothers, who are grandsons of Helen and Sam Walton, founders of the Walton Family Foundation and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Tyson Foods Inc. CEO Donnie Smith, presiding co-chair of the Council, described Malone as having a great feel for what can be accomplished in Northwest Arkansas, and who needs to be involved to make it happen.
In short, he gets results. So it’s little wonder why he was recruited by Steuart and Tom, who have shown an increasing interest in recent years to financially support a variety of regional initiatives — creating vibrant downtowns, adding quality-of-life amenities and attracting and retaining a top-flight workforce, to name a few.
Those are all initiatives Malone focused on the last decade at the Council, so little will change in that regard.
So why take the job? Aside from the obvious appeal of aligning with the Walton family fortune and all that entails, Malone says the vision of where the Waltons want to take the region was too enticing to turn down.
“I want to help them turn their ideas into action,” he says.
That should be an exciting vision for us all.