Recently, multiple conversations have led down a path to the same question:
I quickly challenge and ask the question differently:
“How about: How do you think the early successes in creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northwest Arkansas, although very much in its infancy, will play a role in the creation of a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that represents the entire State of Arkansas?”
At first you might think that I am crazy. The ENTIRE State of Arkansas!? Yes, the entire State of Arkansas. I strongly believe that our generation has the opportunity to change the traditional mindset of regional isolation in this state. Little Rock vs Northwest Arkansas, can and should be no more. And what about North Eastern Arkansas or Southern Arkansas? They have entrepreneurs, too.
See, this is not about a pitch contest, a lecture series, or a coworking space; this is about something much larger. Currently, we have the opportunity to connect an entrepreneurial community, as well as a series of economies, across the entire State of Arkansas. I believe that what is taking shape in Northwest Arkansas is just part of that process.
While many are trying to figure out how to launch the next coworking space in Arkansas, or hold the next pitch event, I challenge you to look at the big picture. I challenge you to see the value in a state where entrepreneurs are empowered and regions connected. I challenge you to see a state where the entrepreneurship community of NWA is that of Little Rock as well as Jonesboro and they are viewed as one. I challenge you to look past the isolation of regions and instead see a community of entrepreneurs that encompasses an entire state. I challenge you to see not NWA or LR as a catalyst of entrepreneurship but Arkansas as a catalyst for entrepreneurship.
All of the things that are taking place in Northwest Arkansas around entrepreneurship are happening because of a community. A community that has been built one entrepreneur at a time over the course of a few years. A community that is built on authentic goals and transparent motives. A community that is as much about support and resource for others as it is about success.
I believe that while there are early successes within the NWA entrepreneurial ecosystem, that this is just a step in creating an Arkansas entrepreneurial ecosystem. I believe that, if we, as a statewide community of entrepreneurs look instead at the big picture, instead of merely at the singularities, we will find that the opportunity to do something revolutionary for the State of Arkansas will be within arms reach.
I believe that Arkansas having a reputation for being a great place to be an entrepreneur is much stronger than instead singularly holding that reputation by Northwest Arkansas or Little Rock. I believe that the mindsets of traditional isolation are of yesterday and that the reality of a state-wide Arkansas Entrepreneurship Ecosystem is tomorrow. Today, we have just began.