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It's All About Community

Guest blog post by Wayne Miller, executive director of The Venture Center

Two and half years ago, I stepped foot in Arkansas for the very first time to join The Venture Center team, and every day since has been truly remarkable. Some days I’m convinced we should refer to our organization as the Adventure Center - but we’ll stick with The Venture Center for now.

At The Venture Center every day brings a new challenge, new relationships and new solutions. Helping entrepreneurs and businesses through education, collaboration and acceleration means our work revolves around a wonderfully dynamic group of visionaries, and through our community programming we have the honor of connecting with visionaries right here in central Arkansas.

Our community programming has grown over the years, and central Arkansas residents have taken note. We are energized by the numbers of attendees at our events because there is nothing more exciting than knowing people are empowering themselves to realize their dreams and work towards new goals. Lift The Rock is a monthly program that features local entrepreneurs who share their stories to inspire others to take the risk and start the business that’s always tugging at them. For those entrepreneurs who have started their businesses, but need guidance as they grow, we have our Venture Center Workshops.

As community programming goes, Pitch and Pint is a crowd favorite. Here entrepreneurs participate in a competitive forum to pitch their ideas for a little seed money.  JOLT is another popular event that focuses on honing the skills of our technical workforce, and Spark! offers free office space and a pre-accelerator program to local startups, thanks to our partnership with the Little Rock Regional Chamber.

Finally, our Venture Center Fireside Chats feature great community leaders in an intimate setting as they share their real world experiences to help entrepreneurs navigate their challenges more effectively.

We’re currently developing several new educational programs to address a wide range of business development needs in our community – we’re truly just getting started.

Education is about helping, directing and mentoring those seeking knowledge to start and evolve a successful business. Whether tech, retail services or something else, we believe that any successful business is good for Arkansas. The Venture Center has touched thousands of entrepreneurs, helped them create hundreds of jobs, contributed tens of millions in new revenue, and helped our participants raise greater than $80 million in venture capital.

Utilizing the resources we have in our hometown to nurture the next group of entrepreneurs is incredibly powerful. Those who have struggled and fought and come out the other side with success have the chance to pay their knowledge and the mentoring they received forward to lift the next generation of entrepreneurs. The community’s investment in our community programs is everything to us.

ROI is historically measured in jobs created and while The Venture Center has been helpful there, it is important to recognize that it takes time to build great companies. We must be patient yet persistent, and we must be flexible yet disciplined. We must be willing to invest regardless, because if we don’t do it, someone else or some other community will. We cannot squander that opportunity. We must build on what we have started and fuel the momentum so people know Little Rock is where it’s happening and the time is now.

Check out The Venture Center’s calendar of events at

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If you have questions about how the chamber can help your business or how you can get involved in growing our regional economy, drop us a line.