Economic Group Honors Council’s Founders for Free Enterprise Efforts

Four people who led the evolution of Northwest Arkansas into one of the nation’s economic engines were honored today by Economics Arkansas at a luncheon in Rogers.

Economics Arkansas honored the legacies of the late Sam Walton of Walmart Stores Inc., the late Don Tyson of Tyson Foods, Inc., the late J.B. Hunt of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, and Johnelle Hunt, Hunt’s widow and a company co-founder who remains active in the Northwest Arkansas community.

The four leaders were recognized with Excellence in Free Enterprise awards. Don Soderquist, a former Walmart Stores senior vice chairman who served as master of ceremonies, talked candidly about his friends Walton, Tyson and the Hunts. He described each of them as determined visionaries whose foresight moved their businesses from small beginnings to become three of the world’s most successful companies.

Walton, Tyson and J.B. Hunt were founding members of the Northwest Arkansas Council, which was established in 1990 to allow regional leaders to work together in pursuing infrastructure projects that were critical to the region’s economic growth. The Council‘s purpose expanded years later into what it is today: A nonprofit organization that works to improve infrastructure, education, community vitality and economic opportunity.

Economics Arkansas trains teachers on how to integrate economics and personal finance lessons into K-12 classrooms.

“We want to honor the entrepreneurial pioneers whose firms achieved the pinnacle of success in free enterprise as we celebrate 50 years of providing economic education in Arkansas,” said Sue Owens, executive director of Economics Arkansas.