Our Initiatives

Ryan Watley

“Strong local and regional partnerships can revitalize our communities and, ultimately, help reverse rural population decline. Economic development, especially in of support small businesses, is a pillar of that effort.”

Ryan Watley builds up rural businesses to catalyze opportunities for residents. He is CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff, in Pine Bluff, AR, focusing on equitable economic development efforts. The organization is particularly focused on helping create and grow small businesses, which not only includes direct support for entrepreneurs but encompasses “upskilling” for local residents, revitalizing the downtown business district, rehabbing aging properties and increasing the capacity of municipal leaders to drive progress.

Watley has a B.A. from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, a PhD from the University of Oklahoma and was a post doctorate fellow at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.


Go Forward Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR.

Area of Focus:

Rural Development

Fellowship Project:

Connect underemployed rural residents to a local innovation hub for small businesses, while also expanding small business participation in the industrial supply chain.

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