A minority business owner, a female CEO and the mayor discussed the city’s future and more with a diverse group of interested professionals at Big Facts: A Conversation about Culture, Community and Conway.
Mayor Bart Castlberry, Conductor CEO Kim Lane and Sandstone’s Korrey Garrett gave opening remarks at the event hosted by local activist Jimmy D. Warren II before opening the floor to the audience, which consisted of members of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, a Conway City Council aldermen, minority entrepreneurs and more.
“It’s very important for us as a city to continue to grow,” Castleberry said. “The millennials are our future. As a city, we have to have cultural events. We’re trying to increase our arts.”
Castleberry said it’s important to strike a balance and offer opportunities for white-collar and blue-collar workers.
“We are a college city and I embrace that, but there’s another area where we’re failing as a city and a state – there are over 60,000 skilled labor jobs available in Arkansas. We as a city need to focus not only on college graduates but also manufacturing,” he said.
Lane said she was honored to serve as CEO of The Conductor, a public-private partnership through the University of Central Arkansas that offers free workshops and events for budding entrepreneurs.
“I’m passionate about it,” she said, noting The Conductor offers several events to encourage people to follow their passion.
Garrett discussed some of the obstacles he’s had to overcome as a minority business owner.
He said people often have a pre-conceived notion that minorities don’t produce quality work and encouraged those in the audience to go the extra mile to disprove the misconception.
“We have to make sure we don’t feed into that. We have a very slim margin of error,” he said.
Dozens of audience members participated in the conversation, asking questions about a range of topics from how small business owners can be most successful in Conway to why there are no streets named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Warren said he was pleased with the turnout and the conversation and thought the event was a success.