A recent workshop at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, coordinated by The Conductor of Conway, resulted in a report with 56 recommendations for improving Arkansas’s business environment.
Grace Rains, executive director of The Conductor, was a guest on Talk Business & Politics this week to discuss the Arkansas Entrepreneurship Policy Framework.
Rains said the task force has support from a large network of stakeholders across the state.
“Initially we had a bias that we would have five different policy maps for the different regions. What really came out of this discussion were more rural versus urban recommendations. So what does rural entrepreneurs face in comparison to urban entrepreneurs? We have tried to integrate this into the framework and also provide recommendations for both. Some of the problems facing urban entrepreneurs have been a lack of venture capital. You know, that’s not even on the radar of these rural entrepreneurs. They’re more focused on child care, transportation, manpower and things like that,” she said.
Licensing requirements are another issue the group hopes to address.
“I think at the state level, absolutely. But I think there are even local-level issues that we’ve seen from the code perspective. The Institute of Justice has ranked us as the third worst state when it comes to onerous licensing requirements for low-income jobs. So, you know, I think there’s a lot of work there at the local and state level, but I think it eliminates some of those licensing requirements. It also just streamlines the process and makes it easier for people to understand what licenses we need and how to get those licenses,” Rains said.
Another outcome of the conference focused on providing entrepreneurs with a “roadmap” to outline the licensing process and other regulatory requirements. The group also suggested that new laws and regulations be accompanied by an “Entrepreneur Impact Statement”.
“There are many policies, laws and even codes that come into effect that don’t consider the impact on small business owners and entrepreneurs,” Rains said. “Our thought was if we create a requirement to think about this, just think about how this is going to impact entrepreneurs and put a statement in any future policies that says, ‘This is how it’s impacting small businesses’ or ‘ That’s not how it affects small businesses. But just to look at this overall, because sometimes we don’t think about small businesses, even though small businesses account for 65.1% of net job creation. It’s definitely something we should consider as we move forward with political change.”
You can read the full Arkansas Entrepreneurship Policy Framework report at this link or watch the interview with Rains in the video below.