This week’s Arkansas Business is dedicated to our 24th class of 40 Under 40 honorees, young leaders of business, government and nonprofits selected by an internal committee from a field of about 400 nominations submitted by readers.
First, I need to point out that there are actually 41 in this year’s class because the honorees includethe duo of Terrance Clark and Will Staley, founders of Thrive Inc. in Helena-West Helena. We’ve recognized married couples and twin brothers in past years, but this is the first time we’ve recognized co-founders of a nonprofit this way.
This is the 18th year I’ve edited this feature, and some members of the first group I worked on in 2000 are still making news — Shane Broadway, John N. Roberts III and Darrin Williams among them. The committee that makes the selections considers both previous accomplishments and future potential, but predicting the course of anyone’s career — or life, for that matter — is a fool’s game. Any one of these 41 names may be a breakout star in our state’s business community — but that’s true of one of the hundreds of nominees who weren’t selected.
That’s why I would never claim that these are the best or the most promising young leaders in our state. But our committee did find them very impressive, and we think that readers of Arkansas Business will benefit from being introduced to them.
As usual, this year’s honorees tend to be from the state’s population centers in central and northwest Arkansas. That’s where most of our readers are clustered, so that’s where most of the nominees were. But in addition to Helena, our tour of young leaders also passed through Marion,Jonesboro, Heber Springs, Searcy, Batesville, El Dorado and Fort Smith. Wherever there is talent, we want to call it to the attention of the Arkansas Business audience.
We also look for leadership in a variety of industries. Last year it seemed like government had a lot of representation; this year the list is heavy on banking and law, but health care, restaurants, construction, marketing and others are also represented.
At a time when the topic of immigration is almost too hot to mention, our committee discovered that some of the nominees who impressed us most were immigrants or the children of immigrants, and Arkansas is better for them.
The number of nominations gives us confidence that we have a quality class of honorees, just like a bigger school has a better football team. But there is a common drawback: The starters tend to be upperclassmen. Sixteen of the 41 were either 38 or 39 when they were chosen — one actually turned 40 after being selected — and this year we have no 20-somethings.
This problem is the very reason Arkansas Business introduced a 20 in Their 20s feature eight years ago. We’ll be featuring those New Influentials in the Sept. 25 issue, so don’t forget to submit your nominations by June 30 at ArkansasBusiness.com/20. (Don’t worry: Nominees for 40 Under 40 who are still in their 20s will also be considered.)
A luncheon recognizing this year’s honorees will be held at the Embassy Suites in west Little Rock on Wednesday, June 14. The luncheon is open to those of us who never made the cut. For more details, go toArkansasBusiness.com/40Lunch.