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A Season of Gratitude

Guest blog post by Wayne Miller, executive director of The Venture Center

 

While the work of building and strengthening Arkansas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem is 24/7 and 365 days a year, at The Venture Center, we do have changing seasons that provide a framework for our mission to support entrepreneurs through our three pillars: education, collaboration and acceleration. Through the seasons, guided by our three pillars and with the support of the Little Rock community, we can support the needs of a diverse pool of entrepreneurs spanning every demographic.
 
The fall season is the primary driver of our education pillar, with programs like the Student Entrepreneur Education Collective for the student entrepreneurs at the UA-Pulaski Technical College and the JOLT Cyber Challenge cultivating Arkansas’ tech workforce. Winter shifts into collaboration with Spark!, a pre-accelerator investing in small local business owners and providing needed tools for business growth, followed by Pitch 'N' Pint to draw the investor and entrepreneur communities together for funding and mentorship opportunities.
 
The excitement and fulfillment of watching entrepreneurs from all walks of life grow are what gets my team and me out of bed every morning, and it’s what keeps us going through our more extended season of acceleration. We’re amid the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, and we’re preparing to launch our sixth accelerator with FIS, the Arkansas grown Fortune 500 global financial services company.
 
These accelerators are an incredible way to show the world all that Little Rock has to offer. With each accelerator, Little Rock welcomes over 100 bankers, financial services leaders and fintech subject matter experts from around the globe. These visitors see our city’s plentiful offerings, from our restaurants and nightlife to the warm welcome from community leaders.

The fintech companies setting up shop here for the 12-week program quickly learn they are in an incredible town, and in turn, become dedicated ambassadors for our city. It’s worth repeating that every accelerator brings with it $1 million in additional revenue to Little Rock.

As our ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator winds down, we’ll celebrate with the participating companies as they deliver their reshaped and refined solution demonstrations to a crowd of thousands of bankers at ICBA Live in Orlando. Little Rock has leaned into this season with us, speaking with a unified voice to say that entrepreneurship is important and that Little Rock has the tools and the desire to support entrepreneurs at every level.

Little Rock shines on the world stage because of your support. As the reputation of this city grows, we look forward to welcoming the next FIS cohort and then shifting back to education season with the next group of student entrepreneurs, tech workers, small business owners and budding entrepreneurs.

We’ll continue to launch new community programs like Origin and to bring impactful VC Workshops, VC Lift The Rock and more to serve expanded entrepreneurial segments. And we’ll do it with the confidence that thanks to a supportive community, Little Rock’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to grow stronger with each passing season.

 

The Venture Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship in Arkansas. To get involved, visit venturecenter.co.

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