This month, in my hometown of Little Rock, The Venture Center hosted the inaugural VenCent FinTech Summit, which brought together leaders in the banking industry, as well as entrepreneurs and government officials from around the world.
In a span of three days, over 500 attendees experienced 70 live demonstrations, dozens of speakers, and countless resources and opportunities for connections after nearly three years of Zoom calls and video conferences.
It was great to be back in person and share the stage with incredible speakers like Governor Asa Hutchinson, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman, and FIS Chairman and CEO Gary Norcross.
I spoke about how technology has always been at the heart of the financial services industry, as well as Arkansas’ history and future as a hub for fintech and innovation. Little Rock is often considered the birthplace of FinTech, in part thanks to the founding of Systematics – known today as FIS. Today, FIS is a global company and one of the largest processing and payments companies in the world.
The inaugural summit, hosted by The Venture Center in partnership with FIS and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), successfully showcased why Arkansas is a growing innovation hub that is attracting talent, investment, and big ideas.
Arkansas is a great example of what it takes to build an innovative, successful venture ecosystem. It doesn’t happen by accident — it takes buy-in from leaders across our communities, capital investment, partnerships between established companies and startups, top-tier colleges and universities, innovative organizations like The Venture Center, and pro-growth policies at all levels of government.
That’s how Arkansas companies were able to raise a record $107.6 million in venture funding last year – three times more than in 2020.
Yet too often, this kind of investment doesn’t make its way across all parts of our country. In fact, 80% of all venture capital investment in the United States is concentrated in just three states: California, New York, and Massachusetts.
I hope to see this investment make its way to more areas in our country, not just the east and west coasts, and I’m working in Congress to do just that. I’m proud to see Arkansas continue to grow as a FinTech hub and show the rest of the country that innovative ideas come from everywhere and find solutions to the big challenges of tomorrow.
I was proud to be a part of this year’s inaugural summit and look forward to seeing it grow and flourish in the years to come. Thanks to The Venture Center for making it happen.
Editor’s note: U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, represents the 2nd Congressional District of Arkansas. The opinions expressed are those of the author.