Tyson Foods, Walmart Responding to Hurricane Florence, Flooding

Walmart and Tyson Foods are among the Northwest Arkansas companies leading in the response to help victims of Hurricane Florence and the flooding that continues to impact North Carolina and South Carolina.

Derek Burleson of Tyson Foods said teams from company plants started cooking hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken on Thursday, breaking a Tyson Foods’ first-day record at a natural disaster by providing food to 31,000 people. Tyson Foods will continue operating at its cook site on a Walmart parking lot in Fayetteville, N.C. through Sept. 29.

The four cook teams traveled from Clarksville, Ark.; Shelbyville, Tenn.; New Holland, Pa.; and Glen Allen, Va. Some of the Tyson Foods products are being provided to churches, nonprofits and other organizations who are directly benefiting those affected by the hurricane and flooding. Teams from Fort Bragg were heading into hard-to-reach areas in Humvees, providing Tyson Foods meals to flood victims.

Walmart, meanwhile, established a Hurricane Florence Response webpage where it announced on Monday that it would provide $5 million to match the $2.5 million donated by the company’s employees and customers for hurricane relief. Walmart today said it would provide $1.25 million to The Salvation Army.

“As our neighbors in the Carolinas continue to recover, we are proud to support organizations on the front line providing critical support,” said Julie Gehrki, vice president of programs for the Walmart Foundation. “Thanks to the generosity of our customers, we fully met our match. The funds from Walmart and Walmart customers will immediately assist communities with response and sheltering while investing in essential long-term recovery across the Carolinas.”

Feeding America received $1.1 million.

"Feeding America is incredibly grateful for Walmart's support of communities impacted by Hurricane Florence,” said Matt Knott, president of Feeding America. “Natural disasters devastate families and communities, and it's critical that we provide prompt assistance when they need it most.

 "With this donation we will be able to meet the increased need and help get even more food and supplies to communities in affected areas."

A New York City television station highlighted the generosity that occurred at a Walmart store in Garner, N.C., where the store’s manager led an effort to magnify a customer’s planned $50 donation to a shelter.

Earlier this week, KFSM, the Northwest Arkansas CBS affiliate, gave attention to the Tyson Foods work that’s occurring in North Carolina.

Walmart and Tyson Foods now have well-recognized histories of consistently providing relief after natural disasters.

In 2005, Walmart dispatched 2,450 truckloads of supplies to help victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita after those storms ravaged Louisiana and other areas of the Gulf Coast.

Walmart’s work after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 drew national praise for being impressive in both speed and volume. The Washington Post described Walmart as “being held up as a model for logistical efficiency and nimble disaster planning, which have allowed it to quickly deliver staples such as water, fuel and toilet paper to thousands of evacuees.”

Tyson Foods employees have helped after disasters for years, but the company first started using its Meals that Matter disaster relief semi-trailer after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012.

Workers at Tyson Foods facilities, including the company’s headquarters in Springdale, provided much-needed meal assistance to victims and volunteers after hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Sandy; ice storms in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky in 2009; the Joplin, Mo. and northern Alabama tornadoes in 2011; and other disasters across the U.S.

New Video Captures Northwest Arkansas, its Amazing Statistics

Videos do an amazing job of marketing Northwest Arkansas because seeing is believing when it comes to one of the fastest-growing regions in middle America.

That’s because many people outside the region don’t know about the rising quality of life, its increasing population, its excellent schools, and its expanding companies.

A new video, commissioned by the Northwest Arkansas Council, does a nice job of combining the region’s impressive amenities and outdoor venues with the statistics that tell the story of what’s happening in Northwest Arkansas. Produced by Cedric Fonvile’s company NICE NWA, it was shared widely this week on social media, and it remains on the website of Finding NWA.

Through Finding NWA, the Northwest Arkansas Council tells the region’s story by sharing information about the benefits of living and working in the region. It’s intended to share information with people interested in exploring careers in Northwest Arkansas.

Fonville’s production certainly adds to the video conversation about Northwest Arkansas. YouTube is packed with excellent videos about Northwest Arkansas, including one produced by Walmart focused on the entire region, and Giant Bicycle’s video about the Razorback Regional Greenway and the region’s mountain bike trails.

Walmart Provides $2M to Momentary; Venue's Admission Will be Free

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art earlier today announced a major financial donation to advance the Momentary, a new contemporary arts venue that’s scheduled to open in early 2020.

 Olivia Walton and Tom Walton talk about the Momentary, a Northwest Arkansas project being supported by the Walton Family Foundation to advance quality of life in the region.

Olivia Walton and Tom Walton talk about the Momentary, a Northwest Arkansas project being supported by the Walton Family Foundation to advance quality of life in the region.

The $2 million gift from Walmart will go toward access and innovation at the multi-disciplinary visual and performing arts space that’s being created in a former Kraft Foods cheese plant. The Walmart gift was among several updates provided regarding the Momentary project, including the unveiling of the Momentary’s logo and the plan to provide free general admission to all visitors to the new venue in Bentonville.

“Since Crystal Bridges opened in 2011, nearly 4 million visitors to the museum have experienced the power of art to transform lives,” said Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer.. “The Momentary will add new and complementary offerings, and extend the story of contemporary art right up to the moment.

“We are grateful to Walmart for their support to help bring artists, innovators, and the community together and to further position Northwest Arkansas as a unique arts and cultural destination.”

“As part of our commitment to enhance quality of life in Northwest Arkansas, Walmart is honored to provide this gift to the Momentary for access and innovation for our community and today’s working artists, both local and visiting,” said Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of corporate affairs for Walmart.

The access will be free admission; funds for innovation will go toward initiatives that align with the mission through festivals, major exhibitions, artist programs, culinary offerings, and more. 

Tom Walton and Olivia Walton of the Walton Family Foundation spoke at today’s press event about the foundation’s commitment to the project.

Olivia Walton talked about the desire to blur the boundaries between visual and performing arts as well as offering a venue that feels comfortable. Tom Walton said the foundation supports the project because it will enhance Northwest Arkansas’ quality of life.

“Our commitment to cultivating arts and cultural experiences provides more opportunities for education, engagement, and enjoyment in our region,” he said.

In 2016, Crystal Bridges announced plans to transform a 63,000 square-foot Kraft Foods plant into a multi-disciplinary space for visual, performing, and culinary arts, as well as an artist residency program. Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns Architects is overseeing the adaptive re-use project.

Design and site work is now complete, with the new construction phase is underway. Spaces are being transformed to include galleries, studio space for artists, a small black box theater, kitchen, cafe, rooftop bar, and flexible indoor gathering areas as well as an outdoor space for concerts, festivals, and community events. A YouTube video preview of the construction is available.

“The Momentary encourages an experimental approach with the flexibility and space for artists to engage with the community and each other in meaningful and unexpected ways,” said Lieven Bertels, director of the Momentary. “By preserving the industrial integrity of the architecture, we are embracing the history of the building.

“We’re also exploring our unique identity. Since, the mission of the Momentary is to champion contemporary art’s role in everyday life, our logo is based on the type of signage found in a factory setting and present all around us, while the iconic arrows in the logo come together to form the M in our name.”

Another way the Momentary is embracing the past and moving it into the future is through the work of Addie Roanhorse, a graphic designer, mixed media artist, and resident of the Osage Nation reservation in eastern Oklahoma.

Roanhorse has created design elements for the building that are inspired by traditional Osage attire and pay homage to the history of the land around the Momentary. The patterns are printed into the building’s entryway, loading dock, and elevator tower glass, and play a functional role in filtering light.

"I have great admiration and respect for Crystal Bridges and the Momentary and I am honored to have this opportunity to acknowledge my ancestral territory with a visual representation of Osage culture,” Roanhorse said.  “Inspired by traditional finger weave patterns, the designs woven in the past are identical patterns my generation continues to weave today."

Pictured at the top: Artist Addie Roanhorse, a resident of the Osage Nation reservation in eastern Oklahoma, has worked with the Momentary architects and will see her influence featured prominently at the new arts ventue in Bentonville. The Momentary opens in 2020.

Tech Summit Announces Impressive List of 60 Speakers

More than 60 speakers will be presenting at this year’s Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit organized by the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce and the NWA Technology Council.

The Summit, which enters its fifth year and will occur on Oct. 23 at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, has grown from 400 participants in its first year to more than 2,500 attendees last year.

Two other aspects of the summit — the second annual Women in Technology Conference and the first MedTech Healthcare Conference — will occur the day before the summit itself starts. The events are also at the convention center.

Among the summit’s 60 speakers will be Craig Harper, chief operating officer at J.B. Hunt Transport Services; Kim Keating, vice president of data science and machine learning at AT&T; Rachel Mushahwar, general manager of global sales at Intel; Yazdi Bagli, senior vice president of global business services and emerging technology at Walmart; and Martin Hitch, chief business officer at Bossa Nova Robotics.

The impressive group of additional speakers come from companies such as Tyson Foods, Salesforce, Microsoft, Teradata, Cox Communications and IBM. The full list of speakers is on the summit's website.

The Women in Technology Conference on Oct. 22 will have its own group of speakers who will discuss leadership, innovation, and women in today’s technology environment. The speakers include Dawn Drewry, vice president of IT Center of Expertise at Tyson Foods;  Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor; and Kim Keever, chief information security officer for Cox Communications.

Speakers at the new MedTech Healthcare Conference include Tony Buettner, who is a national spokesman for BlueZones, an organization focused on helping people live longer; and Dr. Bradley Schaefer, a genetics and pediatrics professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Tickets to any of the three events can be purchased at the technology summit website.

Pictured at the top: Guests at the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit liked checking out some of the unique gadgets made available at the event in 2016.



Walmart, Tyson Foods Earn Spots Among 57 'Change the World' Companies

Two Northwest Arkansas companies are ranked on a new list published by Fortune magazine.

The new list of “Change the World” companies includes Bentonville-based Walmart and Springdale’s Tyson Foods.

Walmart was ranked No. 16; Tyson Foods was No. 44. Just 57 companies worldwide were selected including 31 based in the U.S. Both Tyson Foods and Walmart were selected for their environmental impact. 

The selection of Walmart came because the company is aggressively working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and working with suppliers to reduce emission by 1 billion tons by 2030. Walmart announced what it called Project Gigaton last year, but the company has a collection of other sustainability-focused initiatives. Walmart also drew the attention of Fortune because it’s cutting grocery business waste.

Tyson Foods drew praise from Forbes for “investing in disruptive but sustainable food ideas,” noting the company’s investment in Beyond Meat.  Tyson Foods owns a portion of California’s Beyond Meat, a company founded in 2009 that created a plant-based meat substitute.

Tyson is the world's largest producer of no-antibiotics-ever chicken and that's noted by Fortune, too.