AEDCE Member Spotlight

Brian Eisele

CEO
Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce

Brian Eisele is an entrepreneur and public servant. Brian, with his wife Reagan, is the owner of the Oark General Store, which has been serving the community for 130 years. Since August 2018, Brian has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce.  Brian has a diverse range of experience including business restructuring, social media strategy, public policy and government, as well as community outreach. Before acquiring the Oark General Store, Brian was a congressional aide on Capitol Hill with Representative Joe Wilson and Senator Jim DeMint.  Brian is active in the local community and volunteers on several boards and civic organizations.

  1. Where were you born? Where do you live today? I was born in Aiken, South Carolina, where I spent my entire childhood.  I now reside in Johnson County, Arkansas.
  2. What do you love most about Arkansas? Biscuits and Gravy
  3. Very few people know that I…Had my own language until I was six years old. When I started school, it became a problem.  I guess my friends and family knew what I was up to and didn’t recognize it was an issue. We laugh about it now, and I’ve made sure my three kids all speak plain Arkansan.
  4. How would you describe Arkansas to someone that has never been here? I pick up a lot of observations from travelers passing through the Oark Store.  This is one of my edited favorites: It doesn’t feel like the South, although we have the gift of gab and superior hospitality.  Doesn’t feel like the Midwest, either.  It’s a land of easy smiles and enough charm to get the stink off a skunk.  In this part of the State, I feel its best described as the Ozarks.
  5. What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? Every day is a new opportunity and don’t take it for granted.  Keep moving forward and learning.  Go out of your way to help others. 
  6. The greatest risk I ever took was…? Buying the Oark General Store.  Where I didn’t know anyone and knew nothing about running a restaurant.
  7. What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night? Our world is changing so quickly I see some communities being left behind.  Ensuring our local community keeps up with the rest of the pack and remains competitive across the board is our top priority.
  8. Who would you most like to swap places with for the day and why? My six-month old son, for all the obvious reasons.  He naps, gets fed and rocked to sleep. Wakes up and everyone makes on how cute he is…the kid has it made!
  9. How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job?  I’ve been in the Chamber job since August 2018.  I love the idea of giving back to the community that’s been so good to me and my family.
  10. Best career advice I would give someone in the Economic Development or Chamber profession? Get involved in the local schools.  Workforce development is the most pressing issue and it starts with our young people from ALL backgrounds.  It’s never too soon or too late to care about the community and make it better for everyone.

Ellie Baker, PCED

Director
Magnolia Economic Development
 
Ellie Baker, PCED is the Director of Magnolia Economic Development.  She works daily with local leaders to plan for future infrastructure, housing and workforce needs.  She is responsible for managing inventory of all available properties for those wanting to do business in Magnolia as well as current community projects relating to the parks, sidewalks, and zoning.

 

  1. Where were you born?  Where do you live today?  I was born in Magnolia and now live in Emerson, where I was raised.
  2. What do you love most about Arkansas?  I love the unique events Arkansas has to offer.  It is diverse, rich in history and fun to travel.
  3. Very few people know that I… I received my Amateur Radio Operator license at the ripe age of 10!
  4. How would you describe Arkansas to someone that has never been here?  The natural beauty of Arkansas will take their breath away while being overwhelmed with hospitality regardless if they are here to just visit or looking to build their business.
  5. What advice would you give to your 21-year old self?  Don’t let the outside noise overcome your inner voice – trust your instincts!
  6. The greatest risk I ever took was…? Moving my family back to the Magnolia area from Little Rock.
  7. What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night?  Indoor family entertainment options for our community and the double-edged sword of housing development.
  8. Who would you most like to swap places with for the day and why?  Randy Fenoli from “Say Yes to the Dress” – it’s a guilty pleasure.  The why is because he’s a designer, everyone loves him, and he helps women find a dress to make them feel the most beautiful that they have ever felt.
  9. How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession?  What do you like most about your job?  I was chamber director for 6 years and have recently taken the position of economic developer.  I really enjoy working with other community leaders who have a vision for the future and take ownership of the steps needed now to get there.
  10. Best career advice I would give someone in the Economic Development or Chamber profession?  First, this profession is about the community – not self-gratification.  Second, surround yourself with people that can support your weaknesses and third, stop talking and listen.