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.
Read more on the Community, Professional, and Economic Development blog.
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.
We want to hear from rural business owners!
If you're a business owner in the Ozark Foothills (Izard, Sharp, and Fulton counties) or the 3Cs (Little River, Howard, and Sevier counties) reach out to Julianne Dunn at email@example.com or (501) 671-2158.