Boris Johnson, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, told a Bentonville crowd Wednesday he has a more “firm view of the afterlife” from attending the Heartland Summit there, comparing the town to “heaven, absolute heaven” after bicycling along trails there earlier that day. The final speaker was actor Matthew McConaughey of Uvalde, Texas. McConaughey founded the Greenlights Grant Initiative dedicated to improving school safety after the school shooting in his hometown on May 24, 2022, that killed 19 students and two adults.
Third-generation heirs of three of the state’s biggest businesses spoke with the Rotary Club of Little Rock Tuesday to discuss the future of Arkansas. Steuart Walton of Walmart, Annemarie Dillard Jazic of Dillards, and John Stephens of Stephens Inc. all moved away from Arkansas, but told the audience they decided to move back and all seemed pleased with their decisions.
Walton said his reason for moving back to the state was wanting to create an impact and help improve his home state.
“The communities that outperform are inevitably communities where resources are being reinvested,” he said.
The Walton brothers appeared last month on a panel with AOL co-founder Steve Case during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s policy forum known as the America Leads summit. The event, held in Bentonville, attracted politicians, business leaders and policy wonks from across the country.
As recently as five years ago, the brothers wondered if there would be enough opportunities in northwest Arkansas to keep them anchored. They’ve since learned the answer. They now think northwest Arkansas can be the best place to live in the country as long as it learns from mistakes made by other fast-growing areas.
As Downtown Bentonville Inc. celebrates its 20th anniversary, some local business leaders talk about Bentonville’s rapid growth.
The Walton brothers called the downtown environment in local cities “the beating heart of Northwest Arkansas.”