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Lots of Activity at The Venture Center

Over the past few years, financial technology or fintech has gained speed as a rapidly growing vertical within the technology revolution. Something Little Rock residents may not know, though, is that Little Rock is long considered the "birthplace of fintech." Decades before the current boom began, Walter Smiley built the first technology company for banks, and he did it right here in Little Rock. That company was called Systematics and became what is known today as the global fintech provider, FIS.

This legendary entrepreneur success story raises an incredibly high bar for innovators and entrepreneurs. For Little Rock, though, this high bar isn't daunting - it's motivating and an all-out source of energy to dream big and make big things happen. And last week at The Venture Center was a testament to the ability of Little Rock to make big things happen.

The Venture Center packed a punch in banking innovation efforts as we hosted over 160 visitors from all across the country for various events supporting next year's ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator program. From California to New York, there was no shortage of bankers ready and willing to meet face-to-face with the 2022 cohort.

The week started early on Sunday afternoon at the Little Rock Regional Chamber, where The Venture Center and the ICBA ThinkTECH cohort welcomed BankTech Ventures. BankTech Ventures is a venture fund focused on fueling the innovation ecosystem by pairing community banks with relevant fintech companies that address bankers' challenges and opportunities in various areas. Attendees had the chance to learn about the current cohort's bank-enabling technologies and make valuable connections. The Venture Center’s ICBA ThinkTECH program is having a profound impact on how community banks deploy and source technology, and through BankTech Ventures, bankers now have a chance to invest in the technologies that are helping community banks flourish.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Community Bankers Association of Illinois brought a large group of attendees who had never attended The Venture Center's Accelerator programs. The visit was a whirlwind of demonstrations, meetings with founders, not to mention introductions to some of the best restaurants Little Rock offers. Every visitor remarked on how much they enjoyed being in Little Rock and expressed their desire to come back.

The rest of the week held more excitement and energy from new and returning visitors setting up shop in The Venture Center to explore the 2022 ICBA's selected technologies. Innovation work is essential, and today more than ever, fintech innovation is moving to the forefront as a critical component to how we will navigate the future of banking, business, personal finance, and regular, everyday transactions.

And while Little Rock's legacy as the birthplace of fintech will always be critically important, it's also essential to build upon that legacy and cement our place as a hotbed of innovation. At The Venture Center, we are proud of our role to keep Little Rock, a hub of innovation, humming with activity. We couldn't do it without our partners at FIS, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the state of Arkansas, the Little Rock Regional Chamber, Wright Lindsey Jennings, Frost PLLC, Simmons Bank, the Little Rock Tech Park, and CFO Network, and more.

The Venture Center has something to serve entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey and in all industries. While this week was busy in technology, next week will be busy with our women's mentorship program, VCWoman Achieve, and our local small business accelerator, Spark! If you're looking for a place to network and learn, The Venture Center is your place. Join us!

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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.