Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin got a chance to see the #believeboonecounty initiative’s Brand Anthem video Tuesday.
“That video screams, ‘Move to Harrison,’” Griffin said. “I wanted to call my wife and tell her we are moving. I wonder if we can move the capital up here?”
Griffin was the headline speaker for the Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce’s first-ever Economic Development Summit this week. Before speakers began, chamber president/CEO Bob Largent showed the video promoting Harrison.
Griffin said, “Quality of life is a critical part of the equation for economic development. It’s got to be more than just jobs.”
“There are a lot of places with jobs, today,” Griffin continued. “But you’ve got to have something more to attract the people, the workers and the talent. The emphasis on quality of life is so important.
“I want to focus on what you and a lot of other communities are doing in workforce training. I’m very excited about this. And you companies that aren’t here yet, ought to be here immediately. Before everybody else does. What Arkansas is doing for workforce training is exciting and essential. Our whole country got it wrong as a culture, and we are still battling it.”
Griffin said when he graduated from high school in 1986 there were two paths — college or other.
“When families learned your child was not going to a four-year college, it was like bad news, or your child was a failure,” he recalled. “Our culture communicated that fact. We told everybody that’s what you have to do to be successful. That’s wrong. It’s time we change that way of thinking.
“First, everybody is created unique. We each have our own gifts and everybody has a gift. You can’t pigeonhole a person. They aren’t cookie cutters.
“Second, we have to realize that all work is honorable, not just work that involves a four-year degree.”
Griffin said if someone is on a path without passion, they will be less productive, have college debt, possibly drop out of college. They just aren’t happy.
“We’ve got to meet people where they are,” he said. “We need more private sector companies getting involved and partnering with education to train the workers they need.”
Griffin held up the WIN (Workforce Initiative Network) magazine. “This workforce initiative network is being launched right here,” he said. “It’s hot off the press, and 10,000 will be distributed to students in the area. This demonstrates the private sector cooperating with educational institutions to train workers.
“One hundred years ago, we had apprenticeships. That worked for a while. Now, private sector companies are too complicated for education to know the needs of every private sector company. The private sector companies know what they need and they have got to get involved.”
Griffin is excited about what Gov. Asa Hutchinson is doing with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). “When you team up the resources and infrastructure with educational institutions you get magic,” he said.
“Mike Rogers with Tyson is a great example of local business getting it done,” he said. “Local businesses and local community leaders need to make the decisions — with the state’s resources as needed.
“Keep doing what you're doing. The state has made incredible progress between what the governor and Legislature are doing. But the challenge is to not get complacent. Arkansas is better than it has been. But we can’t confuse ‘personal best’ with the same as being on the trophy stand. Texas and Tennessee or any other state are not going to rest. Other countries aren’t giving us time to catch up, we can’t take a break.”
Giffin asked the question, “What’s next?” He encouraged the audience to continue to take the initiative. “Keep working on quality of life. I think Harrison can be a beacon of light for the rest of the state.” He continued to hold up the WIN magazine that will go to students later this month. “Keep it up.”
Largent thanked Griffin for coming and offered to call his wife for him about the move to Harrison. Griffin said, “I’ll get back to you on that.”