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Your Resolutions (Jeff Hankins' Publisher's Note)
It occurred to me that it would be easier to make resolutions for others to consider in 2011 rather than make them for myself and suffer through another year of failure to follow through.
Here are some suggestions:
- The Little Rock Advertising & Promotion Commission should resolve to find a new chief executive who will be a visionary and take the Convention & Visitors Bureau to the next level of success. The Clinton Presidential Library remains a gem of an attraction, but we have to identify the next big opportunities to promote tourism and convention business. Convention interest and attendance will rise again, and greater Little Rock has to continue to enhance its attractions.
- The Arkansas Livestock Show Association, which operates the Arkansas State Fair, must resolve to abandon the notion of spending more than $100 million on new facilities. The fair is essentially a 10-day event for central Arkansas to eat unhealthy foods and ship money out of state to an amusement rides vendor. If it’s truly about encouraging youth statewide to be active in 4-H and understand agriculture, let’s take some of the sponsor money and fund those efforts for a fraction of the cost.
- The Little Rock National Airport Commission apparently has already resolved to wake up and pay attention to airport expenditures. Now it can refocus on the plans to expand and enhance the terminal, which makes much more sense than starting over.
- The Arkansas Lottery Commission has to resolve to take control of its agency. Like the Little Rock National Airport situation, the lottery commissioners have been too hands-off with the executive team. I still give Director Ernie Passailaigue a lot of credit for his success in getting the lottery off the ground so quickly, but the disregard for state policies and pay structures is impossible to defend.
- The city of Little Rock must resolve to develop a plan to provide adequate youth sports facilities. Golf courses, cycling trails and small parks are nice, but surrounding cities have done a far better job investing in youth activities and facilities.
- Gov. Mike Beebe should resolve to stay out of the way for the first month of the upcoming legislative session to see how this newly created two-party Legislature is going to function. I think we’ll see some pretty choppy waters. Surely the days of a handful of legislators writing the Revenue Stabilization Act in the final week of the session are over.
- The Arkansas General Assembly must resolve to remain conservative with the outlook for tax collections. The big contingent of Republicans will be far more eager to cut taxes than it will be to cut expenses.
- The state’s colleges and universities must resolve to deliver more college graduates through increased retention rates now that they are enjoying record levels of enrollment thanks to scholarships from the lottery.
- Business leaders across the state should resolve to acknowledge the extraordinary leadership of Claiborne Deming and Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado and Ross Whipple and Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia. The El Dorado Promise and the Arkadelphia Promise, both of which fund a college education for high school graduates in those cities, will change generations of families and keep those communities competitive for economic growth. And last week Southern Bancorp’s Delta Bridge Project planted the seed of the Great River Promise for student in Phillips County.
- The Little Rock School District and the Pulaski County Special School District must resolve to acknowledge that their continued disarray will only strengthen the charter school and private school movements they so detest. Even the most ambitious of school superintendents will be hard-pressed to consider taking on those districts unless the school boards, teachers unions and city leaders commit to letting a superintendent lead and build consensus for change.
All that said, I resolved to lose 30 pounds in 2010 and succeeded, then gave some of it back after resting on success. For 2011, I won’t have to fight quite as hard toward my weight goal because I don’t have as far to go, but it will still take plenty of effort to make progress. This sounds like the business year ahead, as well.
Best wishes for 2011, and thanks for your continued readership of Arkansas Business.