Second Annual Entrepreneur Support Organization Summit to take place at UCA

Conway Institute of Music

ESO groups across the state will gather to make Arkansas a better place for small businesses this February

Conway – The Conductor will host the second Entrepreneur Support Organization Summit at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway on February 12th & 13th. The purpose of the ESO Summit is to convene organizations and individuals that support entrepreneurs to problem-solve new ways to innovate and enhance entrepreneurship across the state of Arkansas. Over 32 support organizations attended the inaugural summit in 2022. This year, the summit is being planned by a committee of individuals and organizations from across the state.

Committee member, Esperanza Massana-Crane of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission stated, “It is no secret the State of Arkansas is placing a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship and small business. That’s why we are thrilled to partner with Arkansas’ entrepreneur support organizations to develop innovative solutions that will expand a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and further strengthen and diversify our economy.”

The summit programming will encompass a diverse range of topics aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and collaboration across the state of Arkansas. Ecosystem building, entrepreneurial success in rural Arkansas, speed networking, lightning talks from organizations statewide, and access to capital are just a few highlights. To enhance the networking opportunities, a happy hour and group dinner will be included for registrants. Attendees can expect to gain a better insight into the entrepreneurial landscape of the state, and the resources it provides, while hopefully leaving with new ideas to better benefit the small business community of Arkansas.

A running theme throughout the two-day convening is exploring how entrepreneurship support organizations across the state can better collaborate across regions and sectors. Two keynote speakers will provide their perspectives and learnings from their work in developing complex systems. Julie Heath, Executive Director at IU Innovates and previous Vice President of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, will share insights on leading statewide entrepreneurship initiatives. Andy Stoll, Senior Program Officer of Ecosystem Development at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation will share lessons from his work growing entrepreneurs nationally through a distributed leadership approach. Additional sessions will focus specifically on the state of Arkansas, including a presentation by Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald and a demonstration of the new Arkansas Business Resource Hub.

The original attendees of the summit are members of the ESO Monthly group, which was started by Sarah Goforth of the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2019. The group meets monthly to discuss upcoming events, share success stories, and capitalize on collaboration opportunities for organizations that serve entrepreneurs.

Summit Co-Chair, Tiffany Henry of Arkansas Capital Corporation shared, “The ESO Summit is an amazing reflection of the statewide effort to support Arkansas entrepreneurs. I am particularly excited for the sessions on ecosystem building, as they will provide valuable strategies for fostering cross-sector collaboration that aim to boost entrepreneurial activity within local communities.”

Who does the ESO Summit best serve? Anyone who works with entrepreneurs and innovators across the state of Arkansas – Entrepreneur Support Organizations, Economic Developers, Chamber Representatives, Small Business Owners, University and College representatives, and others are all invited to attend the summit.

The summit is sponsored by Arkansas Capital Corporation, the University of Central Arkansas, and Conductor.

You can register to attend the ESO Summit taking place on February 12-13, 2023, at https://www.arconductor.org/eso-summit

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