Rich Harwood in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after Wal-Mart sponsored community conversation

Bentonville group discusses improving Northwest Arkansas
By Dave Perozek
January 30, 2015

BENTONVILLE -- Some community leaders met Thursday and agreed now is the time to begin a regional conversation about how Northwest Arkansas could improve.

"There are a lot of good things already happening," said Rich Harwood, president and founder of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation in Bethesda, Md. "The question is how do you build on your strengths to keep moving forward."

Wal-Mart invited Harwood to Bentonville to guide the discussion. Harwood specializes in coaching people and organizations on how to solve problems and effect change in their communities.

"Wal-Mart said, 'This is a great place, but can't we do better,'" said Michael Poore, superintendent of Bentonville schools.

Sixteen people joined Thursday's meeting, which was hosted by the School District. Participants included Poore, School Board members, representatives of Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods, and two from the faith community, among others.

Their two-hour discussion initially focused on Bentonville, but soon shifted to include the rest of the region as well.

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