Governor Hutchinson On The Job Hunt In Silicon Valley

May 14, 2015

Governor Asa Hutchinson and other Arkansas officials pose during a visit to Facebook's corporate headquarters.
Credit Arkansas Economic Development Commission

You haven’t seen much out of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s public schedule the last two days. That’s because the new Arkansas governor has been on the West Coast for a little R & R. Not “rest and relaxation,” but for a few “rendezvous and recruitment.”

Hutchinson’s computer coding initiative, which received significant national press in a recent Wired magazine article, led to the governor visiting several Silicon Valley executives, including Facebook, we’re told.

A spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Scott Hardin, confirms the two-day California business trip and offered Talk Business & Politics this statement:

Governor Asa Hutchinson and Mike Preston, Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, are in California this week meeting with approximately ten Silicon Valley-based companies. This recruitment trip was planned recently as a result of the heightened interest Arkansas is receiving from tech companies due to the Governor’s computer coding initiative.

The Governor’s Office and state economic development leaders have received a significant amount of positive feedback and interest from companies following the national media attention this initiative is receiving.

Charles Morgan, former Chairman and CEO of Arkansas-based Acxiom Corporation, joined Governor Hutchinson and Executive Director Preston on this trip as an advocate for Arkansas’s growing tech sector.

Dave Wengel, Founder and CEO of iDatafy and a member of the Governor’s Computer Science Task Force, is also a member of this delegation. This team will return to Arkansas Friday following two days of meetings.

I’m looking forward to the next Q&A with the governor.

Hutchinson pushed for a new computer coding initiative in Arkansas schools in the most recent legislative session. He has said that one of his educational visions is for 20% of Arkansas students to eventually take computer coding classes while in high school.

Hutchinson contends this could put thousands of computer coders into the Arkansas economy annually.  Earlier this week, he continued his speaker tour across the state urging students and communities to take advantage of the upcoming push.

Charles Morgan is not only the former CEO of Acxiom Corp., but he recently relocated two tech firms that he’s involved with – PrivacyStar and Inuvo – from Conway, Arkansas to downtown Little Rock’s burgeoning tech sector corridor.