BENTONVILLE, Ark.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today in Bentonville, Ark., more than 350 innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders and policymakers convene to create meaningful solutions to change the narrative about the middle of the country and kickstart economic growth across the heartland.
The 2022 Heartland Summit brings together this group of luminaries to create powerful networks aimed at forging paths of progress and turning great ideas into action. The heartland is at the epicenter of many of America’s biggest challenges and is also a storehouse of tremendous American potential.
“Too many well-meaning conversations about the future of the heartland take place outside of it. The Heartland Summit brings the conversation home. Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas are leading important, substantive conversations about economic development in the middle of the country,” said Olivia Walton, a co-founder of Heartland Summit.
The two-day event showcases the beauty and innovation occurring in Northwest Arkansas, while hosting meaningful discussions that allow leaders to learn from each other and bring new ideas to their hometowns.
On Wednesday, May 11, the summit kicked off with bike rides through the world-class network of trails, visits to Bentonville’s impressive museums like Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and insightful panel discussions. The stage was set with “Kick-Starting Change in the Heartland,” featuring established CEOs doing business in middle America, including Dr. Patrick Conway, CEO of Cares Solutions, Optum; Maria Teresa Kumar, Founding President and CEO, Voto Latino; Kathryn McLay, President and CEO, Sam’s Club; and Carmichael Roberts, Founder and Managing Partner, Material Impact.
Pharrell Williams, the Grammy award-winning musician, education-focused philanthropist and entrepreneur, joined Caryl Stern, executive director of the Walton Family Foundation, on stage for a discussion on “What Unites Us: Investing in Our Kids and Transforming Education.” Williams discussed how their organizations are working to close the opportunity gap and why this work matters now more than ever.
The conversations continue throughout Thursday, May 12, with community leaders such as Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Steve Case, Chairman and CEO, AOL; Alice Walton, founder, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Cornell Wesley, Director, City of Birmingham, Ala.; along with political leaders including Mayor G.T. Bynum of Tulsa, Okla.; Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana; and Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.
Governors Edwards and Hutchinson lead the “Meet in the Middle: Reaching Across the Aisle to Collaborate” discussion, in which they talk through utilizing collaboration to achieve economic growth and reaching across party lines to advance the heartland and our country.
Heartland Summit was co-founded by Olivia, Tom, Steuart and Kelly Walton to change the narrative about the middle of the country, creating recipes for building vibrant economies and resilient communities. The Summit returned to Bentonville this year for the first time since 2018. More information on the Heartland Summit and Heartland Forward, the “think and do tank” of which this is the flagship event, can be found on the Heartland Forward website.
About Heartland Summit
Heartland Summit is the flagship event of Heartland Forward with the mission to help change the narrative about the middle of the country and kick-start economic growth. We showcase the exciting innovation happening between the coasts, spark frank conversations about the challenges the region is facing and build networks to sustain economic growth and power problem solving across the country. By bringing together leading thinkers, innovators and investors, we create powerful networks to forge paths of progress and turn great ideas into action.