PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Pine Bluff will host the Rural RISE Summit this coming week where people from across the country will talk about how they can make rural areas better for entrepreneurs.
This is only the second year for the Rural RISE Summit. Last year, it was in West Virginia, but this coming week nearly 200 people from 37 states will meet in Pine Bluff.
Mildred Franco, the Executive Director of The Generator, which is an innovation hub powered by GoForward Pine Bluff, said this is huge for their small town.
"We are just very honored that all of these people are coming from across the country to our town," she said.
Rural RISE Summit is a national event focusing on building rural entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Franco said Pine Bluff hosting this year was not something the city expected.
"We were kind of surprised because we did not participate in the inaugural summit," she said.
Franco said a partner of the non-profit GoForward Pine Bluff suggested to the Rural RISE organizers to consider the southeastern Arkansas city.
"They called us and they asked if we would be willing, so we decided 'oh dear, okay,'" she said.
From then on, Franco said it's been nonstop.
"I've gotten to meet many people across the nation who are very involved and very committed to the rise of rural entrepreneurs," she said.
Franco said the three days of discussion and workshops center on answering one question.
"How do we empower the doers, the leaders and the innovators in rural communities across the US?" she asked.
There are four main topics the summit will focus on, ranging from the importance of relationships and trust for collaboration, to identifying where policy and government can make the most impact.
Franco said at the end of the day the goal is to make sure lack of resources doesn't stop these resilient cities.
"The fact that we're rural and the fact that we are a community of color doesn't mean that we cannot be a prosper community. That we cannot have great ideas coming out of here, that we cannot have great entrepreneurs and great companies with tremendous job growth," she said.
The summit starts this Tuesday, September 17, at noon and will last until Thursday morning.
Unfortunately, registration is already closed, but you can go to Rural RISE Summit's website for all the details on what will be taking place this week.