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This week I received reports from two important commissions I created earlier this year, and today I’d like to discuss those reports and what it means for the future of our state.
On February 17th of this year, I created the Arkansas Commission on the Status of Women. Their task was to study and analyze a number of factors relating to women in the labor force and in education.
The idea for this Commission came from the Arkansas Women’s Foundation and a look back at history. In the 1960’s and 70’s, governors, including Rockefeller, Pryor, and Bumpers, created commissions to study the role women play in the labor market, the economy, and in our politics. But it has been over 40 years since the last report, and the Commission’s review is much needed.
The Commission I created was chaired by my Chief of Staff, Alison Williams. She was joined in this work by elected officials, state government employees, and leaders in business and education.
The findings and recommendations of the Commission were instructive. Their research concluded that women continue to bear the greatest burden of family care. One of the barriers they determined for women in the labor force is often the lack of access to childcare.
Their report also included recommendations like increasing access to women’s physical and mental health resources, equity in entrepreneurship, and increased mentorship programs for women.
Based on these recommendations, I dedicated $200,000 for increased mentorship programs for women through Arkansas State University.
The second Commission report I received this week was from the Arkansas Council on the Future of Mobility, chaired by Cyrus Sigari. The Council was tasked with providing recommendations of policies and objectives that can be achieved by both the public and private sectors to grow Arkansas’s potential in future mobility.
This report included a number of recommendations, and they all had one goal: to ensure Arkansas is not only a national leader in future mobility innovation, but that we are globally competitive.
Some of the Council’s finding expand on our current efforts in computer science education and autonomous drone delivery for things like groceries. The key recommendations include creation of the Arkansas Innovation Fund, workforce training and education, infrastructure, and effective policymaking to foster growth in this field.
I’m hopeful the General Assembly will take up this report and build on these recommendations when they convene in January. Future mobility provides an opportunity for our state to continue leading the nation in innovation while growing our economy and creating the best paying jobs.