Longtime banker Mary Beth Brooks is the new director of the University of Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC).
“I am thrilled to be working with partners around the state as we grow the center’s services to small businesses in Northwest Arkansas,” Brooks said in a statement. “Our center is committed to ensuring existing and aspiring entrepreneurs have the resources and support they need to flourish.”
Brooks’ banking career spanned three decades. She earned a finance degree in 1986 from the UA and went to work as a bank examiner for the Arkansas State Bank Department. Then she spent three years at what is now BancorpSouth in her hometown of Fort Smith, ultimately serving there as chief financial officer.
In 1993, Brooks moved to Memphis where she worked in lending and was a regional retail banking consultant for the National Bank of Commerce. She joined Fayetteville’s Community Bank of North Arkansas in 1997.
In Northwest Arkansas, her work also included stints at Arvest Bank (1998-2004) and The Bank of Fayetteville (2004-2015), where she resigned as president and CEO following the bank’s sale to Stuttgart-based Farmers and Merchants Bank.
Brooks also served on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Northwest Arkansas Council’s executive committee.
The ASBTDC is part of a state and national network that helps small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs make lasting economic and social impacts to their communities. The regional office in Fayetteville provides training, research and consulting services to existing and potential business owners in Benton, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Marion, Newton, Searcy and Washington counties.
According to a news release, Brooks will work with the lead ASBTDC in Little Rock and with entrepreneurial support organizations in Northwest Arkansas, including a close relationship with the UA’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“Partnerships with financial institutions and the business leaders are critical to our mission of supporting and helping grow the state’s economy,” said Stacy Leeds, the UA’s vice chancellor for economic development. “I can’t imagine a better person to lead our efforts to foster business development across Arkansas.”