AEDCE Member Spotlight
Allison JH Thompson, CEcD FM EDFP
Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County
Allison Thompson serves as President & CEO of The Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Arkansas. The Alliance was created in 1994 as a non-stock, not-for-profit corporation and became operational on January 1, 1995. The Alliance was formed to unify community and economic development efforts in Jefferson County. The Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce is a division of the Alliance and the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Port Authority is an affiliate organization. A separate board of directors governs each organization, but all share a common staff and common quarters in Pine Bluff.
- What do you love most about Arkansas? It was the people I met during the interview process that propelled me to Arkansas and what I have fallen in love since arriving are the trees. My centering time is walking in my yard looking up at the incredible oaks, oh, and watching the flying squirrels leap between them!
- Very few people know that I…rode English hunt (seat) as a teen when growing up in New Jersey.
- What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? Slow down and savor every minute.
- Top three things on your bucket list? 1) Doing well in this position 2) Attending celebratory events with my family 3) Seeing the northern lights
- Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous? I wish!
- If you weren’t in economic development/chamber work, what would you being doing? City management: the development process in a city can make or break growth the trajectory of a city and a culture of service starts at the top. So basically, if I wasn’t able to do what I am doing, I would be in a position to help those who were!
- The greatest risk I ever took was…? Walking along a moss-covered precipice on a trek to Machu Picchu.
- What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night? Excitement about the opportunities and possibilities for Jefferson County preoccupy my thoughts. We are at a tipping point and the future depends upon everyone pulling together to make great things happen.
- How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? I have been working in this profession for over 20 years. What drew me to it was the strategic planning process utilizing community stakeholders and what has kept me in it day to day is working with businesses. Though there are some obvious differences between economic development and chambers of commerce, what they share is the focus on businesses and the commitment to them.
- What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? My advice is to be patient while being tenacious and always be open to new information.
Dover Dixon Horne
Matt Boch is a Member of the law firm Dover Dixon Horne, where he focuses his practice on state and local taxes and economic development. He helps businesses negotiate, implement, and comply with state and local incentives, as well as managing their tax liabilities and contesting them when appropriate. Matt is committed to making Arkansas’s tax system more competitive, serving as outside Tax Counsel of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and actively supporting its tax policy efforts like the 2019 Arkansas tax reforms. He is also the current Chair of the Arkansas Bar Association Section of Taxation and is active in multiple national taxpayer organizations (COST, ABA, NASBTS, etc.).
- What do you love most about Arkansas? I love the genuine friendliness of the people. It’s a very comfortable place to live and raise a family. The natural beauty and nice weather are pluses too.
- Very few people know that I … lived a formative year in Little Rock when I was two. My father was in the steel industry and was involved in a project in Arkansas that never got off the ground. Perhaps my early childhood experience is why I think an Arkansas accent sounds so nice!
- What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? Don’t be afraid to get out there and work hard in the fields that you chose. You can make very real differences in the world with a little extra effort.
- Top three things on your bucket list? (1) A week or two somewhere in Asia—maybe Singapore / Indonesia / Thailand. With the world shifting that way, I would love to see it firsthand. (2) A multiday backpacking trip on the Ouachita Trail. (3) Road tripping up the Pacific coast.
- Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous? On my mom’s side, supposedly you can trace us back to the first settler in Mineral County, West Virginia.
- If you weren’t in economic development/chamber work, what would you being doing? I would just be doing tax work. And while that’s a blast, it’s not as rewarding as helping a new facility or a big expansion get off the ground, especially in a community that needs it.
- The greatest risk I ever took was…? Relocating to Arkansas from a large law firm in Chicago. I had just made partner and I got a lot of questions when I told my friends and colleagues that I was moving to Arkansas. But it’s been a great choice—a more varied practice that has a real impact, and a better place to raise my family.
- What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night? Professionally, the structural unfairness that taxpayers face gets me upset—it is too much of an uphill battle to prove DFA or other tax administrators wrong. Personally, and much more broadly, we can’t thrive as communities if we are not thriving as individuals, and it seems like more and more folks are struggling with addiction, distraction, debt, etc. It’s like the fabric of society isn’t what it used to be.
- How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? I started getting into economic development through my tax practice beginning in 2012-13. With my role at my firm, I love being able to jump in to help lots of different businesses in different locations and situations.
- What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? Learn the technical issues surrounding all the different facets of a location selection decision—or at least know where to ask. Businesses and individuals are making holistic decisions, so an economic development professional must be multidisciplinary: a bit of a realtor, banker, politician, engineer, construction contractor, lawyer, accountant, and HR executive all rolled into one. The more you can learn about each aspect on a technical level, the more effective you will be.