Annual Entrepreneur Support Organization Summit planned for February at UCA

The Conductor will host the second Entrepreneur Support Organization Summit at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway on Feb. 12 and 13. The purpose of the ESO Summit is to convene organizations and individuals to problem-solve new ways to enhance entrepreneurship across the state. More than 32 support organizations attended the inaugural summit in 2022. 

This year, the summit is being planned by a committee of individuals and organizations from across the state.

“It is no secret the State of Arkansas is placing a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship and small business,” said committee member Esperanza Massana-Crane of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “That’s why we are thrilled to partner with Arkansas’s entrepreneur support organizations to develop innovative solutions that will expand a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and further strengthen and diversify our economy.” 

The summit programming will encompass a diverse range of topics. Ecosystem building, entrepreneurial success in rural Arkansas, speed networking, lightning talks from organizations statewide, and access to capital are just a few highlights. To enhance the networking opportunities, a happy hour and group dinner will be included for registrants. Attendees can expect to gain a better insight into the entrepreneurial landscape of the state, and the resources it provides and will leave with new ideas to benefit the small business community. 

A running theme throughout the two-day convening is exploring how entrepreneurship support organizations across the state can better collaborate across regions and sectors. Two keynote speakers will provide their perspectives. Julie Heath, executive director at IU Innovates and previous vice president of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, will share insights on leading statewide entrepreneurship initiatives. Andy Stoll, senior program officer of Ecosystem Development at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation will share lessons from his work on how to grow entrepreneurs nationally through a distributed leadership approach. Additional sessions will focus specifically on the state of Arkansas, including a presentation by Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald and a demonstration of the new Arkansas Business Resource Hub.

The original attendees of the summit are members of the ESO monthly group, which was started by Sarah Goforth of the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2019. The group meets monthly to discuss upcoming events, share success stories, and capitalize on collaboration opportunities for organizations that serve entrepreneurs. 

“The ESO Summit is an amazing reflection of the statewide effort to support Arkansas entrepreneurs,” said Summit Co-Chair Tiffany Henry of Arkansas Capital Corporation.”

Who does the ESO Summit best serve? Anyone who works with entrepreneurs and innovators across the state of Arkansas like entrepreneur support organizations, economic developers, chamber representatives, small business owners, university and college representatives and others are invited to attend. 

The summit is sponsored by Arkansas Capital Corporation, the University of Central Arkansas, and Conductor. Register at