Arkansas Small Business: Big Rural Impact Podcast
The Create Bridges Arkansas Small Business Big Rural Impact podcast highlights products and services of businesses in their respective regions. We discuss ways business owners address workforce development, technology, infrastructure, and more.
The purpose of our podcast is to foster collaboration between local business owners through the sharing of ideas and best practices.
You can also listen to our podcast on our website and iTunes through our partner Spring River Innovation Hub. The final episode of the series was published on November, 19, 2021. Thank you to all our guests, funder, and community partners that made this show possible!
Read more on the Community, Professional, and Economic Development blog.
Recorded via zoom, program coordinators Muriel Wiley (3Cs - Little River, Howard,
Sevier counties), Brandon Mathews (Ozark Foothills - Izard, Fulton, and Sharp counties)
and Hazelle Whited (Ozark Foothills), team up for the last time to reflect on the
CREATE BRIDGES work they feel so blessed to be a part of over the last 18 months.
Though CREATE BRIDGES will continue to be a part of the two regions, the program coordinator
portion of the program comes to an end on November 30, 2021.
From favorite podcasts to work that will continue forward on the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Community, Professional, and Economic Development unit website, the trio has developed a legacy of solutions that will help the four sectors of entrepreneurs so important to rural Arkansas: Retail, Accommodations, Entertainment, and Tourism. This last podcast summarizes what will continue forward and more work that could be developed to additionally help businesses.
Brandon, Murriel, and Hazelle thank our great leadership, at UADA, Julianne Dunn and Stacey McCullough, and the Regional Steering Committees (RSC) of each region, for this unique opportunity to impact businesses in a direct way.
Featured Guest: Brook Kaufman, CEO of Visit Casper
In 2017, Casper was on the centerline of the 2017 Eclipse, where 21,000 people descended for spectacular viewing of the eclipse that could be viewed over one-third of the state. In 2024, two-thirds of Arkansas will have the chance to be host to Eclipse viewers as both CREATE BRIDGES regions will be on or within miles of the centerline. What does this mean to our rural communities?
On this episode of Small Business, Big Rural Impact, Hazelle Whited takes the podcast over Zoom to Caper, Wyoming, to visit with Brook Kaufman to recap her recent visit to CREATE BRIDGES communities where she presented the “All too real truths about preparing your community for an eclipse.” In this light and casual conversation, Brook reiterates how the 2024 Great American Eclipse can be the once-in-a-lifetime tourism event for many rural Arkansas communities and shares Casper’s experiences leading up to and after the eclipse. Hazelle, in-turn, shares with Brook the immediate impact and follow-up for additional meetings her presentation sparked among communities considering a regional coordinated effort similar to the structure of the 2017 Wyoming Eclipse Festival.
Featured Guests/Invitados: Nelson Ramirez, Lorena Esquivel, Diego Martínez
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, we are highlighting the Spanish-speaking business owners of Sevier County and discussing all the contributions they have made to our community.
English Version: Program Murriel Wiley takes us back to the 3Cs (Sevier, Howard, and Little River counties) for a sit-down with guests Nelson Ramirez and Lorena Esquivel. Lorena is a bilingual business owner who recently started a translation services company, and she also helps translate on the radio and for local businesses. She spends her time helping with food pantries and community services with her church, Iglesia el Centro Cristiano de De Queen and is a mother of 4. Nelson is a father and the manager of cricket wireless, and his family owned a local restaurant called “La Chiquita” in De Queen for more than 20 years. He also serves as a member of The Sevier Chamber of Commerce, works as a property Developer and rental house owner, and he is founding member of a local non-profit group called The Minority Affairs Council.
Español: Estás escuchando la seria de podcasts CREATE BRIDGES "Arkansas Small Business: Big Rural Impact". Mi nombre es __Diego Martínez__ y soy el anfitrión invitado para este episodio especial. Puede que reconozcas mi voz del programa matutino "Radio Cristiano" en KDQN AM en De Queen. Hoy estamos hablando con los líderes locales Nelson Ramírez y Lorena Esquivel. Lorena es propietaria de un negocio bilingüe que recientemente comenzó una empresa de servicios de traducción, y también ayuda a traducir en la radio y para negocios locales. Ella pasa su tiempo ayudando con despensas de alimentos y servicios comunitarios con su iglesia, Iglesia el centro Cristiana de De Queen y es madre de 4 hijos. Nelson es padre y gerente de cricket wireless, y espropiedad de la familia de un restaurante local llamado "La Chiquita" en De Queen desde hace más de 20 años. También es miembro de la Cámara de Comercio de Sevier, trabaja como propietario de una propiedad Developer y rental house, y es miembro fundador de un grupo local sin fines de lucro llamado The Minority Affairs Council.
Featured Guests: Penny and Kenny Bohling, Owner/Operaters PennyLoafers
Brandon Mathews takes the mic on this episode with a literal mom and pop duo in Mammoth Spring, AR. Penny and Kenny Bohling own and operate PennyLoafers, a self-proclaimed coffee shop with New Orleans style beignets, coffee, and a few other offerings you wouldn’t expect to find like the “world’s famous Rueben, biscuits & gravy, and the largest Belgium waffles Brandon has ever seen. Kenny and Penny are incredibly welcoming people, and have hearts of service which is highlighted in the second half of the episode.
We also discussed going big in business isn’t always the best option and can limit some of the flexibility you want as a small business owner, or that creating good customer service and experience is just as important as your final product or service. It was summed up best with “It’s about the people.” Whether you are in the food industry, the service industry, or work remotely across a tri-county region, there is something to take away from Penny and Kenny’s story.
Featured Guest: Patrick Massey, KDQN News Director
Murriel Wiley from the 3Cs sits down with Patrick from KDQN who has served Southwest Arkansas as an entertainment, news and information source for more than 50 years. The station first launched in *1956 and continues to provide live coverage of high school sports, trivia, prize giveaways, advertising opportunities for small businesses and up to date local news and community resources. Also known as number one country, this station brings popular and fun music for country fans and has specialty shows like the *Sunday night oldies segment. Additionally, KDQN also brings praise and worship to the airwaves with the Sunday morning church presentations broadcasted from local congregations in the area.
Beyond 92.1 FM, Bunyard Broadcasting also boasts two sister stations operated out of the same building in De Queen, as both KILX 102.1 The Good Path plays Christian music for a family friendly feel and Radio Cristiana, 104.1/KDQN AM serves the Hispanic community with Spanish music and a fun local morning show.
Featured Guest: Wendy Hutchins, owner of Thirsty Cowgirl Nutrition Hub in Ash Flat, AR.
Hazelle Whited, CREATE BRIDGES Coordinator for the Ozark Foothills, enjoyed a robust
conversation with owner Wendy Hutchins of the Thirsty Cowgirl in Ash Flat. Following
the opening of the sister store in Melbourne, Arkansas in September 2020, the Ash
Flat store that opened May 2021 has proven to pace better than expected despite the
uncertainty of the pandemic. What is certain is the vibrant atmosphere, easy going
style, and commitment to customer service immediately felt when a client walks through
Even though Wendy is constantly on the move, she takes time to share some behind the scenes of the Thirsty Cowgirl from product offerings to flavor creation, opening in the midst of COVID to the great staff that contributes to the stores' success. One can step in thinking they are just getting tea, but may come out with just so much more.
Featured Guest: Gloriaann Sanders, Executive Director of the Calico Rock Museum and Visitor’s Center
Program Coordinator, Brandon Mathews, sits down with Gloriaann Sanders, Executive Director of the Calico Rock Museum and Visitor’s Center, to discuss the numerous projects the museum is undertaking, how they focus on downtown revitalization, and where they go next.
The Museum and Visitor’s Center includes several programs such as the Calico Rock Artisans Cooperative, the Tomlinson Art and Science Center, the History Center, Arkansas Main Street of Calico Rock, and The Marketplace Antique Store. When the Center opened in 2007, it had 500 guests annually. Now, it boats 1,000 – 2,000 guests a month. Gloriaann shares how the Museum and Visitor’s center has been an anchor for Main Street development, increased tax revenue for the city and Izard County, and has been catalyst for businesses moving back downtown. The community is now working towards launching an entertainment district that will feature more outdoor activities, dining, and events. Gloriaann said that people don’t accidentally end up in Calico Rock, that’s why the community is focused on becoming a destination with activities for the whole family.
If your community is interested in downtown revitalization, creating an entertainment district, or improving quality of life, this episode will open your eyes to new ideas and how to act on them.
Featured Guest: Tario Danby, Owner of Angie's Snow Hut
Program Coordinator Murriel Wiley visits owner Tario Danby with Angie’s snow hut to talk about how his specialty business stays cool under all the pressure of business ownership, community involvement, and COVID-19. In addition to creating shaved ice, delicious smoothies, slushes, rolled ice cream and hometown customer service, this sweet place has been operating in Southwest Arkansas for more than 20 years and looking at opening a third location. Featuring thousands of flavor combinations, appearances at local events, a social media presence, seasonal hours, and a great date night opportunity, Angie’s Show Hut is an example of how one small business can serve a community in many ways.
Featured guests: Jennifer Duer, owner of the South Fork Resort in Saddle, Arkansas
In this episode, Hazelle Whited from the Ozark Foothills takes a journey with owner-operator, Jennifer Duer, owner of the South Fork Resort in Saddle, Arkansas.
Jennifer shares the early beginnings from purchasing the business in 2018 to operating the 4 in 1 business through COVID, as well as her process to putting together the details as she puts the South Fork Resort up for sale. This float trip experience will help entrepreneurs hear the real life challenges to consider when purchasing a business, what it takes to survive obstacles, as well as what work is needed when getting ready to sell a business.
Featured guests: Mike Falco, president and CEO of Bank of Salem in Salem, AR and Pat
Behrndt, owner of Crown Point Resort in Horseshoe Bend, AR.
On this episode, Brandon Mathews visits with Mike Falco, president and CEO of Bank of Salem in Salem, AR and Pat Behrndt, owner of Crown Point Resort in Horseshoe Bend, AR.
Mike and Pat spotlight the power of local investment, the impact it can have on the community, and why tourism and entertainment are so critical to the economy of the Ozark Foothills. Pat discusses challenges they faced during the pandemic in 2020, how he and his staff overcame them and shares his vision of a Crown Point Resort that can attract families from all walks of life including four-legged friends. Mike discusses the banks involvement in Pat’s expansion and outlines what a bank need will need to invest in business project. He shared a list of benefits you can expect from partnering with a local bank over a national bank. He also shares how the economic development of one business can have a positive ripple effect for others.
Featured guest: Cass Stanford, the new owner of Riverside Machine in De Queen, AR.
Back in the 3Cs, CREATE BRIDGES Regional Program Coordinator Murriel Wiley takes us to DeQueen, Arkansas, to meet with Cass Stanford, the new owner of Riverside Machine. The shop provides Sevier County with custom made knives, a cool local tourism stop, milling, drilling, sawing and welding services, along with once-a-month community knife-makers meetings and fellowship plus so much more. Riverside Machine holds a historical value in the area and the products created in-house are often designed for folks who live beyond the region, and the state. In order to continue serving Southwest Arkansas and keep growing as a company, the business ownership changed hands from one generation of knife-makers to the next and a story of local succession emerged.
Featured guest: Brooke Walling and Sarah Musik, Millie's in Cave City.
CREATE BRIDGES's Regional Program Coordinator Hazelle Whited sat down with the co-owners of a new restaurant, Millies, located on main street in Cave City just across from City Hall. This hip spot is a gathering for locals but a must stop for tourists and regulars from outside the area. From the formation of owning a restaurant, to the community support leading up to the Grand Opening on Saturday, May 22, Brooke Walling and Sarah Musik share the importance of perseverance, faith, and good support systems through the trials of just getting a restaurant open in a historic building to wondering if COVID-19 will prevent them from ever moving forward on this dream.
Featured guest: Luke Gibson, co-owner of But First, Coffee Drive-Thru in Ash Flat,
CREATE BRIDGES's Regional Program Coordinator Brandon Mathews takes his turn at the microphone to talk with Luke Gibson, co-owner of But First, Coffee Drive-Thru in Ash Flat, Arkansas. Luke and his wife Shelbi opened the store in 2019, just months before the pandemic hit. With COVID-19 shutting down so many small businesses, Luke shares how they adapted and survived to have a growing small business in the community.
Featured guest: Amelia Moore of Picalily Flowers and Gifts.
CREATE BRIDGES Regional Program Coordinator Murriel Wiley in the 3C's talks with Amelia Moore of Picalily Flowers and Gifts in Nashville, Arkansas, who shares her story about becoming a small business owner in rural Arkansas. Amelia's passion for what she does, the people that are part of the team, and why she invested into the renovation of a building on main street that is over 100 years old comes through as she shares just how rewarding this journey continues to be.
Featured guest: Kim Break of Areawide Media.
Brandon Mathews is joined by Kim Break of Areawide Media to share how partnering with local media to for advertising is still beneficial especially in rural Arkansas. From a business success story to ideas on how local media is relevant to helping distribute information for workforce development and skills training in the area, there is much to talk about in this episode. Also, Kim encourages businesses and individuals to call the local paper even if they are not sure if what they have to say is newsworthy.
Featured guest: Smart Phone EMT owner Esteban Ochoa with one of his "co-workers" Kelly Goins.
Murriel Wiley and Hazelle Whited team up in Sevier County to talk with the folks of Smart Phone EMT about the importance of communication across different generations, and different languages. It also provides some insight and inspiration to making a business successful through caring about employees first so they can genuinely care about people. (We even get a couple great sound effects from Kelly's child from time to time AND a quote from the movie Joe Dirt ;-) We think you will enjoy this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.
Featured guest: Dylan Smith of Stateline Barbershop. Brandon Mathews talks with Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur, Dylan Smith, founder and owner of Stateline Barbershop located on Main Street in Mammoth Spring Arkansas. Years in the making, Dylan thought owning a barbershop would stay a dream. Yet, now he has been open for more than a year and business is good, despite the pandemic.
Dylan shares what it’s like to start a business, the process to getting funding and literally building from the ground up. He discusses some of the ways he markets himself and taps into the local and tourist economies. And, just like all businesses, Dylan speaks about some of the challenges he has faced and what he would have done differently knowing what he knows now.
Featured guests: Keisha McKinney of McKinney Media Solutions
Hazelle Whited interviews Keisha McKinney - 3Cs Region Steering Committee (RSC) member, CREATE LIFT contributor, and fan of the CREATE BRIDGES podcast. Here we explore further into the background of CREATE BRIDGES, the work behind the workforce training certificate program, and why listening to this podcast benefits owners, employees, and anyone just wanting to know more about rural Arkansas.
Featured guests: Cathy Drew, Executive Director of Ozark Gateway Tourist Council, and Gloria Sanders, Executive Director of the Calico Rock Community Foundation and Museum and Visitors Center.
Brandon Mathews interviews Cathy Drew and Gloria Sanders on a host of topics including the benefits of being a member of Ozark Gateway, why the whole community needs to be on board when it comes to promoting an area; opportunities for reaching markets outside of Arkansas, and some new programming launching in the region soon.
Featured guests: Hazelle Whited and Brandon Mathews of CREATE BRIDGES Ozark Foothills region (Sharp, Izard, Fulton), and Murriel Wiley of CREATE BRIDGES 3C's region (Howard, Little River, Sevier).
WOW! Celebrating our 10th Episode since we started this series, the CREATE BRIDGES
team of Program Coordinators, Murriel Wiley, Brandon Mathews, and Hazelle Whited,
recap the last six months of their time working with the business in Retail, Accommodations,
Tourism and Entertainment to develop programs that answer concerns identified by each
region affecting entrepreneurs and the workforce. Also, this trio is excited about
the extension of their roles through 2021 and continue the conversation about additional
programs coming down the pipeline as well as encourage businesses to reach out to
be future guests on this podcasts. Join the us in what is a typical work session where
we talk about you, our businesses and employees, and how we can continue to support
you. #createbridgesAR, #Small-Business-Big-Rural-Impact, #ruralAR
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Featured guest: Mallory Bailey of Red River Oil.
In this episode of the CREATE Bridges Podcast, 3Cs Program Coordinator Murriel Wiley talks with Mallory Bailey about how businesses make a difference to other businesses and the region especially in rural communities when they are actually a part of it, not just in it.
Featured guest: Laura Sackett Clute, principal broker and owner of Ozark Gateway Realty.
In this episode, Brandon Mathews visits with Laura Sackett Clute, principal broker and owner of Ozark Gateway Realty, and discusses the relationship between employer and employee housing needs, questions to consider before owning and operating a vacation rental, and how realtors can make connections between entrepreneurs and property owners to fill empty spaces and provide goods and services to the community.
Featured guest: Mayor Jonas Anderson of Cave City, Arkansas.
In this episode, we visit with Mayor of Cave City, Arkansas, Jonas Anderson, who gives us a great perspective on how his active role with #CaveCityArkansas and AR Municipal League involvement are among several important components to the progress of small businesses, tourism and economic development in the community.
Featured guests: Matt Gilley of Big Gilley's Smokehouse in Ashdown, AR and Loren Hinton of UA Cossatot.
Recorded in the UA Cossatot Studios in DeQueen, Arkansas, this episode explores how branding, social media marketing, and good old fashioned barbeque has made Big Gilley's in Ashdown, Arkansas, a must stop for anyone that enjoys a good plate of the smoky treasure. 3C's Program Coordinator, Murriel Wiley, and host Loren Hinton, is joined with owner Matt Gilley as he shares his journey to the famous "Arkansas Twanky" and the hard work it takes to get there.
Featured guests: Marc Herring of Ozark Classic Craft Mall in Hardy, AR & Jeff Penn of Chow on the Square in Cherokee Village, AR
Ever wonder why big city professionals would leave the bustle for small rural Arkansas? Do you know what to expect from small rural businesses that will be different from urban city retailers? In this episode we will hear from Jeff Penn, owner of Chow on the Square in Cherokee Village and Marc Herring, proprietor of Ozark Classic Craft Mall on Hardy Main Street about their journey from the big corporate world to owning their own businesses in the quaint towns of north central Arkansas.
Featured guest: Chad Whitaker of Arkansas 1033 KWOZ
Guest Host Chad Whiteaker sits down with Program Coordinators Murriel Wiley, Brandon Mathews, and Hazelle Whited for a glimpse into the purpose of Create Bridges, how it came to be, and the goals set forward to help small businesses of rural Arkansas start, retain and grow.