Walton group organizing invitation-only summit in Bentonville

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 1,723 views 

Walton Family Foundation (WFF), the Bentonville-based philanthropic organization started 30 years ago by Walmart founders Sam and Helen Walton, is planning an exclusive event Oct. 18-21 in Bentonville.

The goal of the Heartland Summit, according to the event’s website, is “to showcase the exciting innovation happening between the coasts, spark frank conversations about the challenges the region is facing, and build networks to sustain economic growth and power problem solving across the country.”

The theme of the event is “Meet in the Middle.” Attendees will “experience the Heartland’s culture, nature and wellness first-hand through yoga, bike rides, local cuisine, contemporary art, live music and so much more,” the website says.

There will be several speakers over the four days. Some listed on the website include:

  • J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy” and managing partner of Rise of the Rest Seed Fund
  • Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc.
  • James Manyika, chairman and director of think tank McKinsey Global Institute
  • Richard Florida, urbanist and author of “Rise of the Creative Class”
  • Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

There’s no charge to register, but the summit is open only to people who receive an invitation from the WFF. About 350 are being sent to “investors, business and thought leaders and instigators across sectors, geographies and generations,” the website says. The summit is no doubt born from the research being done at the WFF by Ross DeVol, who spent 20 years as the chief research officer for the economic think tank Milken Institute in California. DeVol began a one-year tenure last October as a fellow working for the WFF, conducting research highlighting economic trends that are having a positive impact on areas of America’s heartland.

WFF officials declined to discuss further details of the summit.

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