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J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., U of A Create Supply Chain Innovation Center

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. is making a $2.75 million investment in the University of Arkansas to create the J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence. The center will be a collaborative effort between the company, the College of Engineering and the Walton College to advance supply chain management efficiency through technology. Continue reading J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., U of A Create Supply Chain Innovation Center

Grox Industries to Compete in Rice Business Plan Competition

Grox Industries, a University of Arkansas entrepreneurship team developing a nanomaterial-based glass coating that improves the energy efficiency of windows, will compete with some of the world’s top universities for more than $1 million in prizes at the 17th annual Rice Business Plan Competition at Rice University, April 6-8, 2017.

March 16 marks the opening of the 2017 People’s Choice Competition that challenges the spirit of each university. Team members, fellow students, alumni, family and friends can vote for their favorite team via a Facebook survey. People can participate by going to The winner will be announced, Saturday, April 8, at the awards banquet. More than 16,000 votes were cast in 2016.

The team includes U of A students:

  • Andrew Miles, an executive M.B.A. student in the Walton College
  • Witness Martin, a master’s degree candidate in electrical engineering in the College of Engineering
  • Ting Zheng, master’s in accounting in the Walton College
  • Willie Evans, an undergraduate chemistry major in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
  • Stonie Hopkins, who is also enrolled in the executive M.B.A. program.

The winner will take home a grand prize valued at more than $450,000, including seed funding and the opportunity to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ Marketsite. Judges select the winner based on the company that represents the best investment opportunity.

The teams for this year’s competition were chosen from nearly 350 entrants to compete in four categories: life sciences; information technology/Web/mobile; energy/clean technology/sustainability; and other.

More than 163 former competitors have gone on to successfully launch their ventures and are still in business today and another 20 have successfully sold their ventures. Past competitors have raised in excess of $2 billion in funding and created more than 2,000 new jobs.

More than 140 corporate and private sponsors support the business plan competition, which includes 275 judges from the investment sector and awards more than $1 million in prizes. Top prizes include the $300,000 Investment Grand Prize from The GOOSE Society of Texas, the $200,000+ OWL Investment Prize and the $100,000 Cisco Innovation Challenge Prize.

This year’s other prizes include the $50,000 U.S. Department of Energy Clean Energy Prize, the $50,000 Second Prize, the $25,000 nCourage Women Courageous Entrepreneurs Prize, the $25,000 Women’s Health and Wellness Innovation Prize and the $20,000 NASA Earth/Human Health and Human Performance Innovation Cash Award.

For more information on the 2017 Rice Business Plan Competition and past competitors’ success stories, visit

Bear State Bank Supports Fleischer Spirit Scholars Program

Bear State Bank of Little Rock is making a gift of $50,000 to the Fleischer Spirit Scholars Program at the University of Arkansas. The program fosters commitment and entrepreneurial growth for Arkansas communities. It was established by Morton H. Fleischer, co-founder and chair of STORE Capital Corp., to reach low-income, first-generation college students living in Arkansas who are interested in pursuing degrees in business.

“We are thrilled that Bear State Bank is sponsoring an academic program that gives back to the community, creates local pride and supports individual growth for bright, promising students,” said Barbara Lofton, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “By investing in our students, Bear State is investing in Arkansas.”

The Fleischer Spirit Scholars Program enables high school juniors and seniors in Arkansas to attend a week-long summer bridge program while living in residence halls on campus. Those who enroll in Walton College also receive tuition support and mentorship for four years. Walton College hosts this program and provides programmatic support during the students’ summer stay and one-on-one partnership with student and faculty mentors during their undergraduate studies.

Read the entire story at Arkansas Newswire.


Experts Set to Discuss Economy at 23rd Business Forecast Luncheon

A panel of experts will discuss the outlook for the regional, national and international economy at the 23rd annual Business Forecast luncheon.

The event, coordinated by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in the World Trade Center District in Rogers.

The panelists are:

Moderator: Shelley Simpson, chief marketing officer, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.
International Speaker: Stuart Mackintosh, executive director, the Group of Thirty
Domestic Speaker: Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, chief economist, U.S. Department of Commerce
Regional Speaker: Kathy Deck, director, Center for Business and Economic Research

“This is the key economic outlook event of the year for business and community leaders from across Arkansas and the surrounding region,” Walton College Dean Matt Waller said. “The lineup of economic forecasters for the 2017 luncheon is outstanding, and I know they will bring insights about our economy that everyone can use throughout the year.”

Waller expressed thanks to the many sponsors who continue to support the Business Forecast. “Sponsorships mean that Walton College students are able to participate in an event who might not otherwise be able to do so,” he said.

“For the 23rd consecutive year, the Business Forecast luncheon is bringing the best economists to Northwest Arkansas to present their insights about the economy in the coming year,” Deck said. “We are excited to bring such highly regarded experts to Northwest Arkansas who can provide insights, data and analysis. We know that many of the leaders who attend the Business Forecast luncheon use the presented statistics to make their organizations stronger.”

Shelley Simpson is the chief marketing officer of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.; president of J.B. Hunt Integrated Capacity Solutions and Truck; and is an executive vice president of the parent company. After graduating in 1994 from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a marketing degree, she began her career at J.B. Hunt. That career has included positions across various business segments including: director of pricing for Truck and Intermodal, vice president of economic analysis and senior vice president of finance and administration. In 2007, she assumed the role of president of Integrated Capacity Solutions. In 2011, she assumed the sales and marketing executive responsibilities and was appointed as the company’s chief marketing officer. In 2014, Simpson also took the position of president of J.B. Hunt’s truck division. She is a board member of WorkMatters, a member of the Walton College Dean’s Executive Advisory Board and is devoted to causes related to promoting women in the workplace. In 2016, she was awarded the Distinguished Woman in Logistics award by the Women in Trucking organization.

Stuart Mackintosh is the executive director of the Group of Thirty, an international financial think tank comprised of senior figures from central banking, the financial sector and academia. He is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s work program, fundraising and program of events. The group’s mission is to deepen understanding of international economic and financial issues, to explore the international repercussions of decisions taken in the public and private sectors and to examine the choices available to market practitioners and policymakers. Mackintosh has a Bachelor of Arts and doctorate from Newcastle University and a Master of Science from the University of Edinburgh. He is a certified business economist.

Ellen Hughes-Cromwick serves as the secretary of commerce’s principal adviser on economic matters and as a member of the secretary’s principal management team. She is on leave as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business following an 18-year career with the Ford Motor Company as director and chief global economist. Hughes-Cromwick joined the Ford Motor company in 1996 and was promoted to chief global economist in 2004, where she focused on global economic and automotive industry forecasts used to support Ford’s business strategy, finance and planning. She also served as a senior economist at Mellon Bank from 1990 to 1996. Prior to joining Mellon Bank, she was assistant professor at Trinity College and also served as a staff economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. She is a past president of the National Association for Business Economics and recently completed a 5-year term on the board of directors for the National Bureau for Economic Research. Hughes-Cromwick works to support economic education initiatives and has served on the NABE steering committee to implement the certification program for business economists. She is a board member of the NABE Foundation. She also served in 2013-2014 on the Board of the Council for Economic Education. During 2005-2008, she was on the board of directors and served a one-year term as board chair of Operation ABLE. Hughes-Cromwick received her bachelor’s degree in government and French from the University of Notre Dame. She earned a master’s degree in international development and a doctorate in economics from Clark University in Massachusetts.

Kathy Deck is director for the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Walton College. Her research interests include local economic development, industry market structure and higher education economics. She has managed studies for a variety of clients including: Arvest Bank Group, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and the Northwest Arkansas Council. She also acts as a media resource for analysis of current events and trends. She was named Business Advocate of the Year in 2015 by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, Communicator of the Year in 2009 by the Northwest Arkansas Public Relations Society of America, 40 under 40 by Arkansas Business and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal and as a Woman of Influence by Arkansas Business. Deck earned a B.A. in economics from the College of William and Mary and a Master of Science in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Registration forms are being mailed this week. For more information on sponsorships or reservations for Business Forecast 2017, contact the Center for Business and Economic Research, Sam M. Walton College of Business, Willard J. Walker Hall 538, 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, 479-575-4151, fax 479-575-7687, or e-mail: To register online, visit the Business Forecast website.

The sponsors to date for the 2017 Business Forecast luncheon include:

Walton Presenting Partner – Walmart/Sam’s Club
Walton Academic Partners – Center for Retailing Excellence; Greenwood Gearhart Inc.
Walton Corporate Partners – Frost PLLC; McKee Foods; Smith Hurst PLC
Walton Business Partners – AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company; HoganTaylor LLP; J. B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.; Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC; Regions Bank; Regions Insurance; Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP