LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Today, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she will appoint 17 outdoor recreation and business leaders to the Natural State Advisory Council, serving alongside Chairman Bryan Sanders.
“I am proud to appoint a talented team of bold, passionate, and innovative outdoor recreation leaders to the Natural State Advisory Council,” Sanders said. “These individuals bring the experience and expertise our state needs to promote tourism and grow our outdoor economy – sharing with the world what we already know: Arkansas is God’s Country.“
“Arkansas is called the Natural State for a reason – and no one understands that better than the leaders who will join me on the Natural State Advisory Council,” said Chairman Bryan Sanders. “The benefits of outdoor recreation are limitless, from improved health and quality of life to stronger tourism, workforce and economic development. Working together, we will establish our state as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts from around the world and take our outdoor economy to the next level. This is a space we will compete and win.”
“I am honored to serve alongside thoughtful, passionate, and skilled leaders from around our state to collaborate with Governor Sanders’ administration to drive transformational change for Arkansas,” said Tom Walton, co-founder of the Runway Group. “We are committed to solving problems, breaking down barriers and elevating the Natural State as a leader in the outdoor recreation economy. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Natural State Advisory Council:
Austin Albers, Owner, Buffalo Outdoor Center; Arkansas Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commissioner, Ponca.
Katherine Andrews, Director, Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation, Little Rock.
Bill Barnes, Owner, Mountain Harbor Resort, Mount Ida.
Austin Booth, Director, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Little Rock.
Devin Cole, Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer, George’s Inc., Springdale.
Bill Dillard III, Senior Vice President, Dillard’s Inc., Little Rock.
Anne Marie Doramus, Vice President, Arkansas Bolt Company; Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioner, Little Rock.
George Dunklin, Owner, Five Oaks; former Chairman, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; former President, Ducks Unlimited, Humphrey.
Suzanne Grobmyer, Chief of Staff, Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, Little Rock.
Hugh McDonald, Secretary, Arkansas Department of Commerce; Board of Trustees, The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas, Little Rock.
Mike Mills, Secretary, Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, Little Rock.
Bryan Sanders, First Gentleman of Arkansas, Little Rock.
Phil Shellhammer, Director, Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Martin Smith, Principal, Ecological Design Group, Birdeye.
Matt Tarver, Partner, RZC Investments, Bentonville.
Dr. Tommy Wagner, Owner, Wagner Medical Clinic; Board of Directors, Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, Blytheville.
Tom Walton, Co-founder, Runway Group, Bentonville.
Mindy West, Chief Financial Officer, Murphy USA; Board of Directors, Ducks Unlimited, El Dorado.
More on the Natural State Initiative:
On January 24, Governor Sanders announced the Natural State Initiative to further establish Arkansas as a leader in the outdoor economy and a destination for outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. The Natural State Advisory Council will undertake the following responsibilities in making its recommendations on how the Governor may best advance outdoor recreation and the outdoor economy in Arkansas:
- Coordinating with the Arkansas Department of Commerce, to promote both Arkansas’ growing outdoor recreation industry and the economic impact of outdoor infrastructure investment; to recruit new outdoor recreation businesses to Arkansas, to expand existing outdoor recreation businesses, and to foster entrepreneurial growth by using economic development incentives, site selection services, funding, and training resources within the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; and to explore the development of outdoor recreation opportunity zones near state parks.
- Coordinating with the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism in both establishing a plan to maintain Arkansas’ world-class trail systems at state parks and connecting those trails to larger regional trail systems; to develop an innovative, data-driven marketing strategy to promote tourism and outdoor recreation in Arkansas; to elevate the Office of Outdoor Recreation’s efforts to grow the outdoor recreation economy; and to create a framework for attracting partners to improve programming and experiences in state parks.
- Coordinating with the Governor’s chief workforce officer and workforce cabinet to support efforts in building the outdoor recreation workforce in Arkansas, thereby generating a pipeline of skilled workers and entrepreneurs to grow Arkansas’ outdoor economy.
- Coordinating with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and the Arkansas Department of Transformation and Shared Services to develop innovative food, beverage, and vendor services to enhance outdoor recreation in Arkansas.
- Conducting a review of the tax and regulatory environment, including internal agency and department policies, and explore opportunities to grow the outdoor economy and advance the Initiative’s objectives.
The Advisory Council will present to the Governor an annual written report summarizing its recommendations for how the Governor may advance outdoor recreation and the outdoor economy in Arkansas.