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Claudia Utley, Communications Director
October 9, 2019
For Statewide Release
For Immediate Release
ECONOMICS ARKANSAS PRESENTED EXCELLENCE IN FREE ENTERPRISE AWARDS TO GEORGE FAMILY, SIMMONS FAMILY
Also recognized Dr. Jim Rollins for 35 Years of Board Service
SPRINGDALE – Economics Arkansas presented the 2019 Excellence in Free Enterprise Awards to the George Family of George’s Inc., Springdale, and the Simmons Family of Simmons Foods Inc. & Affiliates of Siloam Springs. The families were honored during a gala luncheon at the Holiday Inn Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale on October 7.
Also recognized was Dr. Jim Rollins, superintendent of the Springdale School District, for his 35 years of service on the Economics Arkansas Board of Directors.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson delivered the keynote address. He said America remained a world leader because of its commitment to economic opportunity and core values. “As long as we maintain our commitment to the rule of law and that depth of freedoms that our Founding Fathers gave us, then I believe we can continue to lead globally in terms of entrepreneurship and freedoms,” Hutchinson said.
He also said that organizations like Economics Arkansas are essential to advancing the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit. “That’s why it is so important that we have Economics Arkansas to make sure it’s not just the entrepreneurs of the last generation that we celebrate, but it is a new generation of entrepreneurs, the students that are here [in the audience] that understand that you can engage in business, and take risks and be a success, and create jobs and opportunities, and grow our economy,” he said.
A non-profit, educational organization, Economics Arkansas trains teachers how to integrate economics, personal finance and entrepreneurship into the PreK-12 classroom curriculum, and a group of three elementary students from George Elementary School demonstrated to the audience the effect of such teaching. Janell Atliano said she learned the economic concepts of supply and demand, scarcity, production lines and cowboy needs and wants by participating in the Stick Horse Rodeo in first grade. Charlotte Young said the Stock Market Game taught her and her fourth-grade peers basic investing skills. And Ben Lemphere said he was inspired to set up a lemonade stand business after reading The Lemonade War, part of a statewide family finance literacy project, in fourth grade.
Also recognized during the gala luncheon was Dr. Jim Rollins for his 35 years of service on the Economics Arkansas Board of Directors. The current board chair, Perry Wilson of Little Rock, praised Rollins for always prompting the board to “improve the work of the organization” and to strive to “do better and better still to serve [the] teachers and students.”
Gary George accepted the Excellence in Free Enterprise Award, which was created by Springdale student artist Kayla Souvannarath, on behalf of the family. His grandfather, C.L. George, founded George’s Inc. in the 1920s. Since then, the small local business has grown into one of the top 10 largest vertically integrated chicken producers in America that offers a diversified protein assortment beyond poultry. Carl and Charles George assumed the fourth-generation leadership in 2013 from the company’s Springdale headquarters.
Accepting the Excellence in Free Enterprise Award created by Siloam Springs student artist Cadence Bowlin for the Simmons Family was Mark Simmons. Simmons Foods Inc. & Affiliates of Siloam Springs was founded by Mark’s father, Bill Simmons, in 1949. Now celebrating its 70th anniversary, Simmons is still a family-owned and -led business that employs more than 7,000 members as one of the nation’s leading supplier of poultry, pet and animal nutrition products.
More than 600 guests attended the Excellence in Free Enterprise luncheon, which was supported, in part, by presenting sponsor Superior Automotive Group, and major sponsors ARVEST Bank, Reliable Poultry, Bank of America, Crossland Construction Company, Inc., John Brown University, Hunt Ventures, MCC Multi-Craft Contractors, Inc., NWA Business Journal, the Sells Agency, the Springdale Chamber of Commerce, and Wells Fargo.
Since 2012, the Excellence in Free Enterprise Awards have been presented to exceptional individuals whose entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen have improved the lives of countless people across the region, the nation and the world. Previous recipients include Sam Walton (posthumously), J.B. and Johnelle Hunt, Don Tyson (posthumously), Mike Duke and Governor Asa Hutchinson.