AEDCE Member Spotlight

Sue McGowan

Director of Economic Development/CEO
Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce

Sue McGowan is the Director of Economic Development/CEO of the Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce.

  1. What do you love most about Arkansas? The hardworking people that are willing to give back to their community with their time and money.  The natural beauty of our great state.  
  2. Very few people know that I…started college at 16 years of age and plan to retire from the chamber in 2020.
  3. What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? Take more risks.
  4. Top three things on your bucket list? Attend the high school graduation of all of my grandchildren, fishing trip to Canada and explore rural Alaska.
  5. Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous? No
  6. If you weren’t in economic development/chamber work, what would you being doing? Selling Real Estate
  7. The greatest risk I ever took was…? Leaving a salaried position to start a real estate company with commission only salary.
  8. What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night? Daytime is for working on issues and nighttime is for sleeping.  One daytime issue that concerns me for Arkansas is the decline of rural areas.
  9. How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? 16 years What do you like most about your job? Assisting my community in providing an environment that businesses can be successful. 
  10. What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? Work together as a community and don’t burn any bridges. 

Bryan Barnhouse

Chief Operating Officer
Arkansas Research Alliance

Bryan Barnhouse is the Chief Operating Officer for the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA). Founded in 2008, ARA is dedicated to elevating the fundamental belief that university research matters. As a public-private partnership governed by a board of trustees comprised of chancellors from Arkansas research universities and corporate executives from across the state, ARA invests in research that stimulates innovation, encourages collaboration, and strengthens economic opportunity in areas in which Arkansas possesses core competency. 

  1. What do you love most about Arkansas? Relationships with all stripes of really interesting Arkansans.
  2. Very few people know that I studied martial arts.
  3. What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? Like Tim McGraw, I’d probably have a few more lemonades.
  4. Top three things on your bucket list? Go with my wife, Jennifer, to explore South America/Antarctica/Australia (yes, that counts as one), write a sci-fi novel, stay healthy (may be lame, but without it I can’t do the other things)
  5. Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous? No, but as a baby, my grandfather was on a train robbed by Jesse James.
  6. If you weren’t in economic development/chamber work, what would you being doing? Public service or doing something behind the scenes in Hollywood.
  7. The greatest risk I ever took was…? Switching from entering the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School for graduate school.
  8. What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night? Mine is more of a pet peeve: litter, which ties back to how we treat the environment.
  9. How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? Approaching 20 years. Economic development is everywhere you look, from the condition of sidewalks, to access to public transit, to education, to university innovation, and the list goes on. Once you wear an economic development hat, it’s hard to take it off.
  10. What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? Be aggressively patient. Positive results from economic development are often long-term, but there are a million things that often go unnoticed, which can be done every day to set up your community for success.