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Governor launches Healthy Active Arkansas

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson launched a statewide plan yesterday to improve the health of all Arkansans. The plan, titled Healthy Active Arkansas, contains nine focus areas all tied to increasing the health of Arkansans through healthy dietary choices and increased physical activity.

Healthy Active Arkansas press conference (click image to watch)

Gov. Hutchinson launches Healthy Active Arkansas

The nine focus areas are:

  • Physical and Built Environment
  • Nutritional Standards in Government, Institutions and the Private Sector
  • Nutritional Standards in Schools—Early Child Care Through College
  • Physical Education and Activity in Schools—Early Child Care Through College
  • Healthy Worksites
  • Access to Healthy Foods
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Reduction
  • Breastfeeding
  • Marketing Program

The priority areas listed in the plan are modeled after Institute of Medicine goals outlined in their 2012 report Accelerating Progress in Obesity Preventions: Solving the Weight of the Nation. Each priority area outlines two-, five-, and 10-year goals to facilitate achievable successes in obtaining a healthier Arkansas. 

“Healthy Active Arkansas is about the future of our state. We want to create a state where all Arkansans can lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.” — Gov. Asa Hutchinson

The plan was developed via a series of facilitated discussions at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and included leaders in the field. It provides a framework of research-based strategies to guide community efforts to reduce obesity—a major factor in improving health. These are accompanied by recommendations for efforts that must be orchestrated on the state level.

The Healthy Active Arkansas plan is meant to be used by a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses, education centers, religious organizations, restaurants, city planners and more. 

To read or download the full plan, visit the Healthy Active Arkansas website.

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To B Corp or not to B Corp

2015 has been a big year for companies looking to do more than just increase their bottom line.

Just last week, crowdfunding website Kickstarter announced it has reincorporated as a public benefit corporation, making it legally bound to look beyond just profit margins when making company decisions. In addition to holding Kickstarter to their new charter, becoming a benefit corporation also allows them to remain a certified B Corp. B Corp certification is handled by B Lab, a nonprofit organization that looks at a company’s social and environmental impact, accountability and transparency in the same way LEED certification looks at green building standards.

Becoming a certified B Corp and being incorporated as a benefit corporation are separate yet complementary endeavors. While any business in the world can apply for certification through B Lab, benefit corporation status is not as widespread. Just like Kickstarter, though, any certified B Corp operating where the law allows them to incorporate as a benefit corporation must do so. Etsy, the online crafting marketplace, is one such B Corp.       

Etsy’s case is interesting, however, as earlier this year it released its IPO and became publicly traded. Though Etsy is not the first B Corp to go public (it is preceded by Brazilian cosmetics company Natura and Colorado software company Rally Software), it has drawn a lot of attention as a well-known company plotting uncharted waters. Etsy is certified as a B Corp through Delaware, which passed benefit corporation legislation in 2013. According to B Lab’s rules, Etsy has until 2017 to reincorporate in order to maintain their B Corp eligibility. The decision will not be an easy one, but whatever the potential pitfalls might be, it has brought more attention to B Corps and benefit corporations and can serve as lesson for likeminded B Corps in the future.

Looking to the future of B Corps, another company could someday eclipse Natura as the largest publicly traded B Corp: consumer goods producer Unilever. Shortly after Natura became certified as a B-Corp in December 2014, Unilever CEO Paul Polman began talking about possibly pursuing the status for his company. Unilever currently is invested in its Sustainable Living Plan and owns one of the earliest B Corp adopters, Ben & Jerry’s, so becoming certified as a B Corp seems like a natural fit.

As larger and larger companies look for ways to be socially conscious and accountable, it is important to note that entrepreneurs in Arkansas can do the same. Arkansas is one of 31 states in the United States that has passed benefit corporation legislation, so the stage is set. Perhaps the next big news involving a socially and environmentally minded company will come from our own backyard.

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Seeing a city through new eyes

Here’s a little thought experiment for you: Imagine that you are a stranger visiting your town for the first time. What do you see? Does it look inviting, cared for, and vibrant? Is it easy to find your way around? Does anything catch your eye and make you want to stay a little longer or come back again?

Fourteen Conway County residents put the city of Morrilton to the “visitor” test on a tour that spanned city limits by bus in all directions, focusing on the view from the city’s points of entry and main thoroughfares, and ended on foot for a closer look at several downtown blocks.

The tour was a product of Conway County’s participation in the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute’s Uncommon Communities program, a community and economic development initiative that will take participants from Conway, Perry, Pope, Van Buren and Yell counties through an intensive, nine-month curriculum of workshops and trainings designed to jump-start development at the grass-roots level.

Cody Hill, director of events and membership for the Morrilton Area Chamber of Commerce and chair of the steering committee for Conway County’s Uncommon Communities program, said that the idea for the bus tour came from the steering committee itself.

“We were having our first big follow-up meeting to the first session at WRI, and a couple of people just said, ‘Let’s take our blinders off’” and see what other people see when they visit, Hill said.

We departed from the Chamber and headed west on U.S. 64, and it wasn’t long before the first noteworthy sight was announced by Mayor Allen Lipsmeyer, who took to the bus PA system to call the group’s attention to a faded wooden “Welcome to Morrilton” sign—that appears, bewilderingly, on the way out of town. Plans are underway to refurbish the sign and move it to a more welcoming location.

Vacant buildings and overgrown lots passed by the windows. Suddenly, one brave soul volunteered himself as a guinea pig, pointing out a lot of his own with a vacant building that he’d been unable to sell. “So, what do I do with that?” he said. “Well,” said Hill, “you’re keeping it mowed. That helps.”

This example of a property owner taking the trouble to keep tidy a property he isn’t even using seemed to set off a light bulb inside the bus, and now nearly every building we passed elicited a chorus of “Who owns that one?” People were complimenting one another on how nice everything looked, but a pervasive awareness of the special kind of accountability a person can feel in a small town where everybody knows your name—and your address—hung in the air.

The tour continued through town to have a look at the city’s entrance from the south, coming over the river bridge on Route 9. “Think about how many people come this way from Petit Jean,” Lipsmeyer said. “There’s no ‘Welcome to Morrilton’ sign.” On Route 9 at the north entrance to the city, “There’s no welcome sign, but there’s a huge Petit Jean Liquor sign,” Hill said with a laugh.

Back at the Chamber, the group prepared for a short walking tour. “For so many years, I only ever saw Morrilton from the front seat of a car,” Hill said. “Now that I’ve taken up jogging, I’ve noticed so much more on foot.” One thing everyone noticed right away is that the north side of Broadway has a sidewalk and no trees, and the south side has the reverse—which you might not pay mind to in the car, but seems patently unfair as you make your way down the street on foot on a blinding, 95-degree day. It was agreed that Morrilton needs more trees.

Around the corner was an example of a building that’s been painted to highlight historical architectural details and to complement the surrounding buildings. Across the street, a vacant building stood with peeling paint, rotting wood, and windows clouded with dust. “Even vacant buildings need to be kept up,” said Darryl Rhoda, who is on Conway County’s steering committee for the Uncommon Communities program. “Potential buyers drive on by a building that’s sad and dirty.”

As we passed by empty storefronts and recently closed businesses, a combination of hometown pride and HGTV fever seemed to overtake the group, and attractive features on abandoned buildings were pointed out, and improvements were enthusiastically suggested. The tour concluded at the Chamber, where a quick wrap-up produced one of many “assignments” for the group: Based on what was seen on the tour, come up with a list of three simple improvements that could be made in one afternoon, possibly during a clean-up day that is tentatively scheduled for one weekend in October. “We’ve got a lot of momentum,” Hill said. “The iron is hot, and it’s time to strike.”

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Health roundup: lasers, conferences and Arkansas' growing problem

A quick rundown of recent health-related news with ties to the Institute:

Dr. Vladimir Zharov (pictured above on the left), a renowned researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), was recently awarded a $1.7 million grant by the National Cancer Institute for his work in using lasers to detect and destroy melanomas without damaging normal tissue cells. Zharov served as co-chair of the Fifth Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference, which was held here at the Institute in April 2014. Read more about the grant and Dr. Zharov’s work here.

***

Back in May, the Institute collaborated with UAMS to bring the Conference On Normal Tissue Radiation Effects and Countermeasures (CONTREC) to Petit Jean Mountain. Led by Dr. Martin Hauer-Jensen, one of the world’s foremost authorities on radiation injury research, CONTREC attracted scientists from all over the world. Many of those same scientists may soon travel to San Antonio, Texas, for the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) conference.

ASTRO is a radiation oncology (study of cancer) membership organization comprising more than 10,500 doctors, nurses, biologists, medical physicists and others who work to treat cancer.

Before having the privilege of working with Dr. Hauer-Jensen, we honestly didn’t think much about radiation unless someone we knew happened to be receiving it as treatment for cancer. Even then, we didn’t think about all of the effects of radiation for the patient and all that goes into it for the health care provider. ASTRO exists to address both of these viewpoints to ensure scientists and practitioners have the best education and tools at their disposal and that the patients are receiving the best possible care and are ensured the best chance of survival.

ASTRO’s annual meeting will be held Oct. 18-21.

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And finally a bit of bad news. Various outlets recently reported on The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report lists Arkansas as having the highest rate of obesity in adults in the United States at 35.9 percent. Right on our heels are West Virginia at 35.7 percent and Mississippi at 35.5 percent.

The Institute has been working for more than two years with the state’s top health care leaders and advocates for reducing obesity rates, including the State Health Department, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, UAMS and the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention. The result of our collaboration will be a plan to improve overall health and reduce obesity rates by setting strategies to help people eat healthier and be more active. Watch for updates on this initiative in the coming weeks and months.

 

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Workshops help landowners increase income through outdoor recreation

As a senior wildlife associate with the Natural Resource Enterprise (NRE) program at Mississippi State University, I get asked all the time by landowners about nontraditional ways of earning income from their land. I’m passionate about helping people find ways to increase incomes or build additional revenue from existing assets on their property.

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but outdoor recreation is a $145 billion industry in the United States. That’s billion with a “B.” It’s bigger than the entire motion picture industry and the entire airline industries combined. Did you know that nature tourism, including wildlife watching, is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the outdoor industry?

These are just a few of the nuggets you’ll learn about during our workshops, one of which is scheduled for Sept. 24 at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. But those are just teasers. The fact is the bulk of what you’ll learn is:

  • Habitat management.
  • Ways to cost-share conservation practices.
  • Business planning.
  • Customer satisfaction.
  • Legal aspects of recreational businesses.
  • Estate planning.
  • Pitfalls of operating outdoor businesses.

The NRE program has engaged landowners in 10 states and two European countries with research-based information about wildlife and fisheries recreation. Since 2001, we’ve worked diligently to put together more than 200 presentations tailored at helping landowners navigate recreational business and increase incomes from outdoor recreation. Many of our attendees have bolstered previous revenue streams from existing recreational businesses.

Over the past 14 years, we’ve worked with landowners across the Southeast improving habitats for wildlife and fish. From coastal wetlands to the prairies, landowners are all trying to be better stewards of their land and use the latest habitat practices to increase populations of game and nongame animals. Many landowners also understand the advantages of fee-based access to these resources. Landowners are creative, and many have used a lease as their primary profit tool.  Leasing has been around for generations in many cases, and we’re not in the business of trying to increase lease prices on hunters and anglers, but we do try to help landowners understand the actual value of these resources. It’s about knowing what the market will support and how to key in on market indicators that show you how to valuate a property to recreationalists.

Of the landowners who have attended our NRE workshops in the past, 90 percent didn’t have a management plan before they came. A year after attending the event, these same landowners, when surveyed, reported an average annual income of roughly $14,000 on average of 800 acres from natural resource enterprises they established. Astonishingly, this was attributed to increased knowledge of habitat practices and information they learned about recreational business during the event.

Come see for yourself how you can make these ideas work for you. As I mentioned earlier, our next Outdoor Recreation Business Workshop will be Sept. 24 at the Institute. The focus of this workshop will be on land associated with cattle production. However, there will be information valuable to landowners of all types as well.

Registration ends Sept. 17, so be sure and sign up soon. Hope to meet you there.

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The Winthrop Rockefeller Collection—archiving the life of the ‘Arkansas Rockefeller’

There are many ways to take the measure of a man—usually by his deeds, his character or his achievements. If we’re talking about the legacy of Winthrop Rockefeller, we can also throw in linear feet. Nine hundred and sixty-seven feet, to be precise—that’s the storage footprint of the Winthrop Rockefeller Collection, the archive that is housed at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture in downtown Little Rock. 

To use another metric, that’s 1,934 document boxes. Not including photographs, audio and video. Just the audio portion of the archive—recording of speeches, press conferences, campaign events, etc.—consists of 688 cassette tapes and 1,488 reels. And there are seven collections of photographs.

Six-year-old Winthrop Rockefeller

Received by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1980, the collection documents Rockefeller’s life from his birth in 1912 until his death in 1973.

Beyond his very public life as a businessman, politician, governor and—well—a Rockefeller, the archives also preserve the record of his personal life, including his childhood, young adulthood, service in World War II, charitable activities in New York and his years as a citizen in Arkansas before and after his governorship.

The collection is as varied as life itself. Only Rockefeller’s was not an ordinary life. Along with school drawings and handwriting practice sheets that could have come from the hand of any modern 6-year-old boy, there are candid and formal portraits of members of one of America’s most iconic families. There are boxes labeled with names like Johnny Cash and photographs labeled “Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip of England (1957)” or “King Hussein of Jordan (1959)”. Ever heard of them?

Winthrop Rockefeller birth certificate file

You don’t have to be a scholar or biographer to access this fascinating collection—it’s available to the public and fully searchable through the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture online catalog, where anyone can browse through detailed descriptions of the holdings, preview photographs or request online access to audio and video material.

Check it out, if you’re curious to get a sense of the life and times of the “Arkansas Rockefeller.” I think you’ll find it measures up!

Read more from Kyran Pittman at Planting Dandelions.

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Counties focus on improving their futures with Uncommon Communities

“There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals.”

Idowu Koyenikan

What makes a place a great place to live? For most people, the answer to this question involves some combination of attractive options in employment, education, housing and local amenities, among other considerations. For five Arkansas counties, the answer—and a means of attaining it—lies in a new community and economic development program launched this past weekend at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute atop Petit Jean Mountain.

Uncommon Communities seeks to harness the power of impassioned citizens and show them how to transform their communities—right from their own backyards. It is a pilot program created by the Institute in partnership with Mark Peterson of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s Breakthrough Solutions program and Vaughn and Sandy Grisham with their renowned community development work. Conway, Perry, Pope, Van Buren and Yell counties were chosen for the pilot in large part because of their proximity both to the Institute and to each other. Participants represent a wide swath of each community and include business leaders, educators, volunteers, parents, public-sector employees and elected officials.

The program consists of a series of five day-and-a-half-long training sessions at the Institute, during which speakers will be brought in from Arkansas and across the country to share their expertise. These sessions on the mountain will focus, broadly, on leadership, education, jobs, funding and sustainability. Between the meetings on Petit Jean, each county will work with a local steering committee to develop plans and complete projects.

In addition to an introduction from program partners to some of the processes and methodology involved in community and economic development, the first weekend session featured keynote addresses from Bill Fry, a former naval officer and one of the top turnaround specialists in the nation, and Col. Joe Dowdy, retired Marine officer and former senior executive at NASA. Both men delivered inspiring talks on leadership and the power of people who are willing to stand up and do what’s right. A sobering chill suffused the room when Dowdy said, “If you fail, our nation as we know it will cease to exist.”

Those words are a challenge. And according to Uncommon Communities, it is a challenge that has been met and overcome before—by counties just like those participating. To demonstrate some possibilities, Jon Chadwell of the Newport [Arkansas] Economic Development Commission detailed nine areas (and dozens of programs) in which the commission works to improve the town using money from a half-cent sales tax initiative. The tax, which squeaked by with 50.2 percent of the vote in 2002, recently passed again with 76 percent as a result of the highly visible improvements it has funded.

Ben Van Hooser, city administrator of Greenville, Ky., told of how his town of 4,300 earned more than $6 million worth of grants over eight years and completely transformed a downtown that participants called “sad,” “dying” and “dead.” He spoke as before-and-after images of the town were projected onto a screen. No doubt the “after” images, of tailored sidewalks, cheery painted storefronts and concert crowds spilling out of a courthouse square, will have visions dancing in participants’ heads for weeks to come, just as the motto of Van Hooser’s office will ring in their ears: “Don’t tell me why we can’t, tell me how we can.”

If the first meeting had a theme, it was the vital importance of human capital—specifically, the 30-some-odd citizens who had given up the better part of two days to learn about how to make their communities better. Over and over, participants heard a similar refrain: “You are the most important person in the room. You are the ones who are going to do it; nobody else is going to come in and do it for you.”

So perhaps the true answer to the question of place isn’t so much a what, but a who. What makes a place a great place to live? You. The answer is you.

This is the first in a series of posts about the Uncommon Communities program. In addition to highlighting work being done at the Institute, we will be spotlighting each participating community and all the great work theyre doing as a result of their participation in the program. We hope youll follow along with us and join us in cheering them on.

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Jayme Mayo champions a healthier workforce, healthier Arkansas

Jayme Mayo is on a mission. Mayo is the director of wellness at Nabholz Construction, and for more than eight years she has been successfully leading the charge for a healthier workforce.

Not only is she using her expertise to help Nabholz but also Arkansans as a whole. Mayo is one of several key advocates who have partnered with the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, the Arkansas Department of Health, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement to develop a 10-year plan to promote healthy eating and active living in Arkansas.

Her credentials are notable—she is a physician assistant with degrees in physical therapy, exercise and medicine—but she also grew up as a part of the Nabholz family, her father having been a part of the company for more than 40 years.

Nabholz Construction was founded in 1949 in central Arkansas and now has offices in five states and works in 45 states. From the beginning, Mayo said, the company has been recognized for its commitment to its employees. In fact, Nabholz received the Governor’s Work-Life Balance Award in Arkansas in 2008. As a part of its commitment to its employees, Nabholz established a wellness program in 2007 and hired Mayo as its director.

Nabholz started out using the typical wellness program model where employees received points for certain behaviors, such as participating in a 5K or donating blood. However, it was found that this type of program had poor participation and simply wasn’t working. So in 2010, Mayo moved from a participation-based to an outcomes-based program. The focus was on the areas where insurance costs and claims indicated the highest needs: tobacco use, obesity, glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure.  

This move to an outcomes-based program was the key to success. All employees are strongly encouraged to get bi-annual screenings, and they currently have a 99 percent participation rate. Additionally, they started offering monetary incentives for improvements in the focus areas as well as including employees’ spouses, who are also covered under their insurance. Nabholz has now saved more than $1 million a year in insurance costs the past five years, and employees are receiving money for their continued health improvements.

Mayo and her team—which now includes a personal trainer, a dietician and an administrative assistant—use data to drive their priorities. They examine where the most insurance dollars are used and then look for ways to address those specific problems. Much of their effort is in educating employees and their spouses about community resources, such as where to find appropriate care in that community’s region.    

The biggest challenge for the employees, Mayo said, is chronic disease management. Many of their workers travel for projects that may be far from home for months at a time. Getting prescription refills and keeping up with healthy routines is difficult under those circumstances, but the company is currently examining ways to address those needs.

Mayo said her team’s gift is their people skills. They hand deliver many of the screening results and work individually with many of the company’s employees (numbering more than 1,000) to address their specific health needs, offering education, coaching and encouragement. Mayo sees Nabholz employees as her family, and she is proud of the company’s commitment to that family’s health and well-being. She said it is “doing the right thing by our people.”

The success of this program is now nationally recognized. Nabholz was featured in the HBO documentary series Weight of the Nation, and companies around the country call on Mayo and Nabholz to help them establish their own wellness programs. At a time when our country is facing a health crisis in so many areas, an Arkansas company is leading the way to a healthier future.

Read more from Angie Albright at A Growing Season.

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Explore the food of Italy from Petit Jean Mountain

Quick! What’s your favorite Italian food? Did you say lasagna? Or how about spaghetti and meat sauce with a hefty slice of garlic bread? Oh, those yummy carbs. I love those dishes, too, but there’s so much more to authentic Italian food than what normally comes to mind. Or so I hear.

I’ve never been to Italy. Unless, of course, I count the six long hours I spent during my junior year of college stranded at the Dairy Queen in Italy, Texas. As unforgettable as my day was (long story before cell phone days), I don’t think I can compare that Italy in North Texas to the home of the Roman Empire, the country that introduced us to Prada and Pavarotti, the place that brought us olive oil and capers and silky soft gelato, be still my heart.

Thanks to the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, I’ll soon have my chance to at least explore the food of Italy. Certified Executive Chef Robert Hall will be providing a culinary tour of Italy via his next Chef’s Tasting Dinner scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26.

Don’t expect plain ole pepperoni pizza.

Did you know there are 20 regions of Italy, each with distinct flavors and dishes? Chef Hall will bring these regions to Petit Jean Mountain as he provides 20 small plates, most expertly paired with wine for sipping.

The Tour of Italy Chef’s Tasting Dinner will be held in the Institute’s culinary classroom, with many dishes prepared demonstration-style. Throughout the meal, Chef Hall will introduce each course, explaining the particular small plate and how it represents a particular region of Italy. So yes, with a fabulous meal, you will experience a bit of Italian history.

Chef's Tasting Dinners fill up quickly, so make your reservations online today or call toll-free 866-972-7778 for additional information. Tickets, sold only in pairs, are priced at $235 per person. The price includes overnight accommodations (one room with a king- or two queen-size beds) and continental breakfast the following morning.

Arrivederci, and see you there!

For information on culinary events available at the Institute, see the listing for upcoming Classes & Events. Read more from Talya Boerner at Grace, Grits, & Gardening.              

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The best kind of success

Westrock Coffee is the best coffee I've ever had.

I could tell you all about the richness of its taste, the quality of the beans used, the precision with which it is roasted, and those things all make it a great-tasting cup of coffee.

But these factors are not what put it over the edge to make it the best coffee I've ever had.

The X factor for why I enjoy Westrock Coffee above other brands is that I know with every bag of beans I buy, I'm helping create a sustainable future for people in need.

Woven into the business DNA of Westrock is a commitment to create and sustain opportunities for success for people in East Africa. That commitment has gone beyond just buying and trading the coffee that is produced in countries like Rwanda and Tanzania. Westrock has provided training for local farmers in those countries and invested in equipment for harvesting and processing. This commitment has a dual benefit. For one, it helps ensure that the coffee being produced is of the highest quality. Second, it means that Westrock is staying true to its purpose as a social enterprise - having a positive social impact through good business practices.

Social entrepreneurship is an idea that's been around for a while now. Many credit Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus with being the godfather of social entrepreneurship. Yunus pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance, concepts that Westrock CEO Todd Brogdon worked with in Africa before joining Westrock.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute recently switched all of its coffee products (consumed by customers and guests, plus employees) to Westrock Coffee. That decision was really a no-brainer. By offering Westrock Coffee, we're supporting an Arkansas-based company, but we're also showing our commitment to the concept of social entrepreneurship.

My basic understanding of social entrepreneurship is this: Positive social change can be accomplished through traditional business practices. And by tying social change to a profitable business model, both the social change and the business can be sustainable.

This weekend, the Institute is partnering with the Clinton School of Public Service, the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship to host the 2015 Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. With the boot camp, we are providing an opportunity for a group of new and aspiring social entrepreneurs to receive mentoring and support in such areas as scalability, legal issues, ethics, impact measurement, pitch training and more.

This model of business is exciting, but it is not yet ubiquitous. There are some great examples here in Arkansas of social enterprises (Westrock, Pitza 42, Tagless), but it's certainly not the norm. Not yet, anyway.

As Eric Wilson, executive director of Noble Impact, recently told Arkansas Business, "Arkansas has all the ingredients to be a thought leader in this field."

We wholeheartedly agree, and we hope the boot camp is a launching point for ideas and conversations that move the needle forward on social entrepreneurship in Arkansas.

While the boot camp as a whole is only being offered to participants who went through a thorough application process, our opening-night keynote address from Steve Clark (7 p.m. Friday, July 17) is free and open to the public, though registration is required. You can read more about Steve Clark here (subscription to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette required), or check out this video of him discussing social entrepreneurship.

The format for the keynote will be an interview of Steve by Talk Business & Politics publisher Roby Brock. Talk Business & Politics has provided great support for the boot camp, as has the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. We are proud to be working with such great sponsors and partners, and we think the wide interest in this topic is evidence of its growing relevance in Arkansas.

The more social enterprises we have here, the more we as consumers can feel good about the goods and services we purchase, the way I feel each time I take a sip of Westrock Coffee. It's a beautiful thing.

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