To My Friends and Neighbors,

There is an old adage in politics that says,

“If you lose an election, just say a little and if you win an election, say even less.”

Lisa and I would simply like to thank all our friends and neighbors for your support during this election. Once again, I am humbled and honored to be your voice in Little Rock.

If I can ever be of help, please don’t hesitate to call on me.

God Bless,


Applications due Aug. 3 for program to help rural regions build local economies through retail, hospitality industries

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June 26,2018 

By Julianne Dunn

U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts:

Create Bridges to help regions grow retail, hospitality industries

Application deadline is Aug. 3

More info: Julianne Dunn, 501-671-2158,


LITTLE ROCK — Create Bridges, a two-year pilot program to help rural regions grow their economies through the retail and hospitality industries is seeking participants, with applications due Aug. 3.

With funding from Walmart, Stacey McCullough developed Create Bridges in partnership with the Southern Rural Development Center. McCullough is head of Community and Economic Development for the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 


RETAILING — The retail industry offers opportunities for economic development. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo).

The Arkansas team and collaborative partners University of Kentucky and Oklahoma State University will develop, refine, and pilot a process to help rural communities build their ability to staff, support and grow retail and hospitality sectors.

“A primary goal of this program is to build local capacity to address needs specific to the region,” McCullough said. “Strategies may include education and training for employees and employers, but they may also involve infrastructure or support services to support these businesses,” said McCullough.

Retail is an important sector that serves local needs as well as being an entry point to the workforce system for new workers. Retail businesses often find it difficult to keep workers for extended periods, which leaves them with a shortage of shift leaders, floor supervisors, and managers. Create Bridges will look at workforce solutions to keep workers and to be able to promote from within.

Create Bridges builds on the Stronger Economies Together initiative (See:, a collaborative effort across 32 states led by the Southern Rural Development Center that helps rural counties work together to develop and implement an economic development plan for their multi-county region.


How to apply

Regions comprising two to five counties that are predominantly rural can apply to participate in the two-year program. Regions that apply should have some type of retail hub that pulls workers from outside areas. One selected region will have access to new or adapted workforce programs, financial incentives for employee and employer participation, and funding to support small seed projects.

The Cooperative Extension Service and its state partners will facilitate a Retail Academy for regional leaders and a Business Retention and Expansion Program. The partners will coordinate with regional workforce investment boards to identify opportunities for workforce training.

Funds are available for daycare, transportation and food to overcome obstacles to participation. There are also funds for businesses to identify an innovations that will mean better opportunities for their workers.

“This is an opportunity for employers, employees, local leaders and others in the region to work together to improve the local economy and quality of life,” McCullough said.

For more information about this project, please contact Julianne Dunn, Instructor-Economic Development at Cooperative Extension, at 501-671-2158, or email her at The application can be found at


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.  

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.   

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

Happy 182nd Birthday, Arkansas!

Happy 182nd Birthday, Arkansas!

It just so happens, that on the day we’re celebrating the 182nd birthday of our great state, I’ve driven across half of it in my pickup truck. I’ve made my way back home to my grandson’s baseball game, after leaving the Capitol and I’ve had several hours to reflect about the importance of this day and the people who have chosen to serve our great state. 

In March of 1819, the citizens of a sparsely populated area south of the Missouri Territory had petitioned to be recognized by the federal government as a new territory. On June 15th of that year, it became official and President James Monroe appointed James Miller, a hero from the War of 1812, as Governor, and Robert Crittenden as Secretary of the Territory. Within a few months and after all three branches of government were in place, Secretary Crittenden called for an election of a General Assembly to elevate the territory status from “first grade” to “second grade” status. It’s remarkable to think about how quickly a group of driven, engaged people made such monumental progress in creating the state we call home.

As I think about the parallels between today and the beginning of our state, I’m grateful to have been chosen by my district to represent and serve them and our shared interests. The reason I was in Little Rock today was to elect and swear in our new Speaker of the House and my colleague, Rep. Matthew Shepherd of El Dorado. Arkansas is lucky to have Rep. Shepherd, a man after my own heart, dedicated to serving our state and moving us forward through dedication to the best interests of our family and neighbors. I’m struck and humbled by the profound nature of the work that I’m allowed to do on behalf of my friends and neighbors and this year, in much the same way and schedule (Jan. 2019) as our state founders, I look forward to our upcoming General Assembly where my colleagues and I will meet again at the State Capitol to work on advancing our state forward to create more opportunities and prosperity for our fellow Arkansans.