The entrepreneurial spirit created by our bold trendsetters has made Arkansas a hub of international commerce and is launching a new generation of dealmakers. Through a statewide network of partners and targeted tax incentive programs, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission is committed to empowering start-ups and visionaries with open collaboration, unparalleled resources, beneficial policies, and a willingness to get things done.


Registration now open for AEDC’s Sept. 17 Small, Minority and Women-Owned Virtual Matchmaking Event

Aug 25, 2020, 16:43 PM by
The Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission will host its annual matchmaker event on Thursday, Sept. 17.

Little Rock, Ark. (August 25, 2020) – The Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) will host its annual matchmaker event on Thursday, Sept. 17, and encourages small, and minority- and women-owned business owners to participate. Due to effects of COVID-19, this year’s event will be virtual.

Participants in this free event have the opportunity to connect with other local business owners; listen to a variety of guest speakers; and meet with county, state, and federal government buyers from across Arkansas for contract opportunities related to their goods and services.

The Arkansas 2020 Small, Minority and Women-Owned Virtual Matchmaking Event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at www.arkansasedc.com/matchmaking2020.

The event will kick off with a keynote speech from James ("Jim") F. Thrower, a former defense back for the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles who now is a community builder and president and CEO of Jamjomar Inc., a family of 11 McDonald’s restaurants in Michigan and Louisiana. He is a recipient of the Ronald Award, the most prestigious award for McDonald’s franchisees. Outside of corporate success, he serves as the vice-chair of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) Board of Water Commissioners. The Board of Water Commissioners is made up of seven members who oversee DWSD operations, management, and major contracts, as well as set rates for water and sewer services.

“Now, more than ever, we need to connect qualified small business owners with contracting opportunities,” said Secretary of Commerce and AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston. “Small minority and women-owned businesses make a significant contribution to the state, and it is in our best interest to provide them with tools and opportunities that will enable them to increase their revenue and employ more Arkansans.”

Beginning at 10 a.m., registrants have the option to attend 15-minute matchmaking meetings. While the Matchmaker Event does not guarantee contracts, it does create ample networking opportunities and pre-arranged one-on-one “speed-dating style” appointments.

“We have seen steady growth of our Matchmaking Event over the past three years, and we wanted to do everything possible to make sure our small and minority business owners could continue the tradition,” said Pat Brown, Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWOBE) director. “This year’s event will look a lot different, but one huge advantage is that participants can reach out directly to buyers through the matchmaking platform to set up their own meetings.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and AEDC officials announced in August 2017 the state’s Small and Minority Business Program mission would be expanded to include women-owned businesses and be renamed the Division of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise by Act 1080 of 2017. New annual spending targets for State of Arkansas were also set at that time at eight percent for minority businesses, five percent for women-owned and two percent for service-disabled veterans in construction, goods and services, totaling 15 percent for vendors in those categories.

AEDC’s Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Division promotes the growth and sustainability of such businesses by providing real-world technical and professional assistance, state vendor certification, and opportunities for networking and contracting with AEDC partners in state and federal government, higher education, lending institutions and the private sector.

For more information about the event, how to prepare in advance, and to register, visit www.arkansasedc.com/matchmaking2020.


About the Arkansas Economic Development Commission 

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce, seeks to create economic opportunity by attracting higher-paying jobs, expanding and diversifying local economies in the state, increasing incomes and investment, and generating growth throughout The Natural State. Arkansas is a pro-business environment operating leaner, faster and more focused through a streamlined state government designed to act on corporate interests quickly and decisively. For more information, visit www.ArkansasEDC.com. The Arkansas Department of Commerce is the umbrella department for workforce and economic development drivers. Its divisions and regulatory boards include Division of Aeronautics, Waterways Commission, Wine Producers Council, Division of Workforce Services, Office of Skills Development, State Bank Department, Insurance Department, Securities Department, Economic Development Commission and Development Finance Authority. It was established July 2019 as part of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s wide-sweeping efficiency and transformation efforts to reduce 42 cabinet agencies to 15 while maintaining services for all Arkansans.

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Katherine Andrews

Director, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Development

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