Talent Drives Economic Development

Adults have the schools they deserve. Students rarely do.

So, business must lead to ensure that all students, no matter their culture, economic status or ZIP Code, have access to excellent education options to prepare them for career and/or college and community so Arkansas may successfully compete in a global economy.

For generations now, the pathways to college have become increasingly clear, while the pathways to career have become increasingly blurred. To remedy that, here are immediate and projected pathways to ensure Arkansans achieve the high-wage careers they desire:


  • Because the largest piece of the talent pipeline is K-12 public education, employers must insist that local school boards maximize participation and choose November for their elections.
  • Business leaders must then run, win and lead.
  • Because talent now drives economic development, educators must be valued as individual, familial and community economic developers.
  • Development, retention, expansion and attraction of talent must become an economic development priority.
  • School districts must guarantee: All students, except those precluded by intellectual disability, will read at grade level.
  • Business must foster, encourage competition among collaborative eduction providers, no matter location or level (e.g. K-12 or two-year).
  • Business can no longer wait for consensus or scale to act; individual industries must clearly and constantly state need and lead fulfillment of that need
  • Business must insist that local school districts take advantage of existing laws regarding waivers, conversion charters, and inter-district school choice to push meaningful credential(s) and concurrent credits into K-12 and complementary value add into the two-year colleges.
  • Plant portfolio of career technical education models in Arkansas public schools.
  • Create private-sector catalyst for implementation of Arkansas high wage-industry credentials in Arkansas public schools.
  • Market high-wage Arkansas career opportunities at earliest grades.
  • Create private-sector platform for marketing Arkansas’s high-wage career opportunities and the most efficient pathways to those careers, without regard to boundaries, including state lines.

2019 – 92nd General Assembly

  • Remove any and all governmental barriers to market-driven competition among providers, such as:
    • 1) abolishment of service zones,
    • 2) movement of all state career technical education into the Department of Education,
    • 3) movement of two-year colleges out of Department of Higher Education and into Department of Education, and/or
    • 4) repeal Amendment 33 guaranteeing autonomy for Arkansas’s colleges and universities.
  • Weight concurrent credits and national credentials on a five point scale comparable to AP courses.
  • Remove state safety net for able-bodied Arkansans to choose not to work.

Historically, economic development has been driven by (in order):

  • Cheap land
  • Cheap labor
  • Location
  • Infrastructure
  • Incentives

Now, it’s talent. For Arkansas to successfully compete, it must be as aggressive in the development, retention, expansion and attraction of talent as it has been on the provision of required and desired infrastructure and competitive incentives.

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