AEDCE Member Spotlight
Saline County Economic Development Corporation
Lamont Cornwell, Executive Director of Saline County Economic Development Corporation, has a singular focus:To facilitate and lead countywide coordinated efforts to accomplish economic growth to all new prospective industry and business as well as assisting all existing business and industry in Saline County.
- What do you love most about Arkansas? Arkansas affords me the opportunity to pursue anything professionally, environmentally or recreationally I would ever desire.
- Very few people know that I… am a licensed minister.
- What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? There is no limit to where a man can go or how high he can climb as long as he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.
- Top three things on your bucket list? (1) See the completion and successful opening of the 8 year project – Saline County Career & Technical Campus, (2) See all of my children & grandchildren accept Christ and be baptized *ninth & youngest grandchild has accepted Christ & is awaiting baptism, (3) to retire & travel with my wife.
- Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous? President Bill Clinton is my cousin.
- If you weren’t in economic development/chamber work, what would you being doing? Owning and managing a professional duck hunting club.
- The greatest risk I ever took was…? Starting my own business at 49 years of age with kids in college.
- What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night? Nothing keeps me up at night but infrastructure to support economic growth is of great concern.
- How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? My entire professional career since graduating from college has been involved in community & economic development. What is love most is that the people I meet, and each day is different. It is truly like a box of chocolates. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
- What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? Listen twice as much as you talk because it is NOT about you!!!!!
Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce
Liz Smith is chief executive of a 350+ member chamber in the northeast Arkansas Delta. The Blytheville Chamber serves the city and surrounding area in North Mississippi County, land of soil, soul and steel. As chamber director for almost 16 years, she also directs the Blytheville Chamber Foundation, the charitable entity that supports economic development and educational projects. A community development-oriented chamber, GBACC has received state recognition for its unique Money for Main program, and for its literacy programming.
- What do you love most about Arkansas? I love so much about my home state! Nowhere are people warmer, more relaxed and able to truly savor life than in Arkansas, and I also love the intimacy of it all—it is easy to connect with people at all levels of politics and business.
- Very few people know that I … I am pretty much an open book. If they don’t know something about me now, this is not the place to tell it! That said, most people do not realize that I am actually an introvert.
- What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? Look at community service as a place to build a career. The Chamber business, et al, has great potential and is so personally rewarding.
- Top three things on your bucket list? cannot say that I have one. I am a live-it-as-I-see-it sort of person; I also have had an interesting life, have traveled much of the world and had grand experiences.
- Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous? I am not related to a celebrity but have had the privilege of working with several, including doing on-stage interviews of Condi Rice, John Grisham and other notable authors.
- If you weren’t in economic development/chamber work, what would you being doing? If not in Chamber work, I would most likely working in the advertising business, which is where I got the bulk of my business experience.
- The greatest risk I ever took was…? After a number of years as a teacher in Arkansas, I pulled up stakes and moved to New York City—no job, no real connections, but I figured I could surely manage a living. It worked—it was 22 years later that I returned to Arkansas
- How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? I am moving toward 16 years in Chamber work. I like the variety of tasks, the variety of people and I love making a difference in our community. I also value the exposure to true volunteerism. When you watch people serving community, you are usually seeing them at their best.
- What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? In the Chamber world I think it is essential to first, be an optimist and second, be captivated by business itself and the people who make it work, whether in retail, service or manufacturing businesses, big or small. In any career, passion is a key; that, coupled with an intellectual curiosity about business. And in any career, integrity and an ability to be true to oneself are important.