Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Military Affairs

The Governor’s Military Affairs Initiative

In 2015, Governor Asa Hutchinson established the Governor’s Military Affairs Initiative, to protect, grow, and support state’s military missions, installations and related communities that support those installations and their economic development interests. Funding was appropriated to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) in 2016 to establish the Military Affairs Grant Program (MAGP).

Funds allocated to the MAGP may be granted, at the discretion of the AEDC Executive Director, to applicants for projects and programs that strengthen and sustain military installations in Arkansas, resulting in economic growth in host communities, surrounding regions, and the State of Arkansas.

Who Can Apply?

Cities, counties, economic development organizations, military community councils, military installations, and state agencies may apply.

What Programs are Eligible?

Eligible projects and programs, excluding ineligible costs, include those which strengthen and sustain military installations in Arkansas, resulting in economic growth in host communities, surrounding regions, and the State of Arkansas.

Col. (Ret) Rob “Gator” Ator

Director of Military Affairs
Download contact info (vCard)
How to Apply

Submit a completed application.

For projects within the legal boundaries of a military installation, a written letter of support by the Commander of that installation is required.

Military Affairs Committee
2018 Military Affairs Committee

Tim Allen

Tim Allen, Chamber President & CEO, joined the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in November 2011. Prior to becoming Chamber President in 2013, Tim served as the Chief Operating Officer. He is responsible for Economic Development for the Fort Smith MSA, overseeing Chamber staff and functions, and working with community leaders to improve the regional quality of place.








Col. (Ret) Rob “Gator” Ator

Robert Ator currently serves as the Director of Military Affairs for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission after his retirement from military service. Rob retired after serving as the Commander of the 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, the largest Air National Guard C-130 Wing in the U.S. The 189th provides all C-130H aircrew training for the U.S. Department of Defense and its allied nations, trains and equips forces for deployment in active duty service, and serves the citizens of Arkansas as the Governor’s Quick Reaction Force.

As Commander, Col. Ator was responsible for leading the Wing’s 14 subordinate units with over a thousand members, assets valued in excess of $2 billion and an annual operating budget of $70 million. During his command, the 189th opened the Cyber Skills Validation School to meet the new demand for cyber warrior training and the Wing twice earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. Rob and his wife, Michelle, live in Little Rock while their son is a sophomore at the United States Air Force Academy and daughter a freshman at the University of Colorado.





Steve Eggensperger

Steve Eggensperger is a retired Air Force Colonel and is a former Commander of the 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base. He serves as Governor Hutchinson’s liaison to the Arkansas Military Department, the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, and the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics. Steve is a Senior Examiner on the Arkansas Governor’s Quality Award Board of Examiners, a Baldrige Organization, and he serves on the Board of Directors for both the Arkansas National Guard Youth Challenge Foundation and the Arkansas Veterans’ Cemetery Foundation. Steve and his wife, Tami, live in Sherwood, Arkansas. 







Heater Griffin


Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin

Tim Griffin grew up in Magnolia, a fifth-generation Arkansan and the youngest son of a minister and teacher. He was elected the lieutenant governor of Arkansas on November 4, 2014, and is currently serving his first four-year term. He is focused on growing jobs through aggressively pursuing economic development, more parental choice in education and boldly reforming state government.

Tim has served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, for over 20 years and currently holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He graduated from Magnolia High School, Hendrix College in Conway and Tulane Law School in New Orleans and attended graduate school at Oxford University in England. His wife Elizabeth is from Camden, and they currently live in Little Rock with their three children, Mary Katherine, John, and Charlotte Anne. They are members of Immanuel Baptist Church of Little Rock.






Brad Hegeman, Chairman

Brad Hegeman is President of Nabholz Construction Services and oversees management of the South Central Operations. As part of the executive management team, Brad helps develop and implement company-wide strategic direction and growth strategies for the company’s 27 service groups that operate across a 44-state region.

Brad began his career at Nabholz Construction in 1996 and has served in a variety of leadership positions throughout the organization. In 1999 he became the Vice President of Business Development following his role as Controller. Brad also served as Executive Vice President, before being named President in 2009. He serves on Nabholz’ Executive Council and has been a stockholder with the company since 1998.






Lou Ann Nesbitt


Mike Preston

Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Mike Preston executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in March 2015. Mike is widely regarded as a leading advocate for economic development. Before joining AEDC, he served six and a half years as the Vice President of Government Relations for Enterprise Florida. During his tenure at Enterprise Florida, he was part of the team that helped create more than 147,000 jobs paying an average wage of $56,437 and generating $10.07 billion in capital investment.

Since joining AEDC (January 2015), Mike and Governor Asa Hutchinson have made business recruitment trips to Japan, China, France, Germany, Israel, Cuba, Mexico, New York City, United Kingdom, and Silicon Valley. The trips continue to play an important role in the state’s economic development efforts and have led to more than 300 companies signing agreements with AEDC to locate or expand in Arkansas. These companies are investing $6.8 billion and creating more than 11,200 new jobs.

A 2005 graduate of the University of Florida, Mike and his wife, Anne, are Florida natives but are proud to call Arkansas home.





Larry Wilson

Larry Wilson began his career in banking in 1971, following in the footsteps of his father, Kenneth Pat Wilson, who helped found First Arkansas Bank & Trust, headquartered in Jacksonville, Arkansas. Larry has served in various capacities at First Arkansas Bank & Trust over the years, beginning as a marketing officer. On January 1, 1982, Larry was named president of the bank and has since also become chairman and chief executive officer.

Larry has served as President of the Arkansas Bankers Association and currently serves on the Consumer Depository Institution Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Community Bank Advisory Council of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. He has an undergraduate degree in Industrial Management and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Arkansas.

Larry served as a Jacksonville alderman for a record-setting 24 years. He has also served as the president of the Little Rock Ari Force Base Community Council and as president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.





William D. Wofford

Major General William D. Wofford retired in 2015 as the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, where he served on the Governor’s Cabinet. He was responsible for the command of the Arkansas Army and Air National Guard, approximately 10,000 Soldiers and Airmen. As the Adjutant General he was responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the readiness, fiscal, personnel, equipment, and real property resources of the agency, and ensured the training readiness of personnel to accomplish both state and federal missions. 

Utilizing Baldridge Excellence Framework, Bill served as an Army Process Improvement Criteria Examiner focusing organizations on mission accomplishment, improving results, and becoming more competitive. He is a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner and currently serves as a senior training facilitator and consultant for a national leader development company.

Bill lives in central Arkansas with Jan, his wife of over 40 years. They have two adult sons and two grandchildren.