Flamin' Hot Cheetos Inventor Tabbed to Keynote Workforce Summit

The Pepsi executive who invented one of Frito-Lay’s best-selling products will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Northwest Arkansas Workforce Summit on Thursday, Nov. 8 in Springdale.

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Richard Montanez worked as a janitor for Frito-Lay when he invented the product, but he’s now Pepsi North America’s vice president of multicultural marketing. Pepsi owns Frito-Lay.

Montanez is certain to bring a unique perspective to the workforce summit, an annual event put on by the Springdale Chamber of Commerce with support from the Northwest Arkansas Council. The summit was first held in 2015.

The summit provides a great way to connect with business leaders, education and training providers and policy makers. From changes at the state level to new, local initiatives, attendees will focus on collaboration and the future of workforce development in the region.

Montanez will share his insight into how recognizing what makes each person unique leads to innovation and success.

Workforce development is widely considered one of the keys to the region’s future economic success. While high schools, colleges and Northwest Technical Institute are providing more training than ever, skilled labor is important to every company.

Other speakers at the summit include Mike Preston, the director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and Mike Harvey, the chief operating officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council. Preston will talk about the state government’s reorganization plan and its impact on employers. Harvey will talk about the new regional strategy developed by the Council and its impact on workforce development.

Other sessions will focus on the importance of student internships and work experiences, on a state legislative committee that focused on workforce training over the course of a year, and on effective communication between educators and industries.

The cost to attend the day-long summit at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center is $50. Registration may be completed on the Springdale Chamber of Commerce website.

Pictured at the top: Tomas Blodgett of Multi-Craft Contractors in Springdale was one of the speakers at the Northwest Arkansas Workforce Summit in 2016.