The first AFEA Workshop & Networking Event for 2019 is set for May 30 in Arkadelphia with a topic of: Downtown Development With An Emphasis on Special Events. Presenters from Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Arkansas Hospitality Association, and Think Idea Studio in Searcy will discuss success and address challenges in developing and enhancing downtown areas, particularly through festivals and special events. Following the workshop will be a networking event at Slim & Shorty’s in downtown Arkadelphia featuring live music, drinks, heavy appetizers, and vendors from the area.

Please join us for an afternoon education on how festivals and events can spur downtown development and revitalization, how to create effective business/event relationships, create beautification efforts, and acquire resources for downtown efforts and enjoy time networking with peers afterwards! This event is made possible by the Arkadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Arkadelphia.


Conference Registration

About the presenters:

Susie Cowan: Director of Marketing & Communications, Arkansas Hospitality Association

Susie Cowan has long been a pioneer of community and small business development as well as festivals and events. Cowan is a local business enthusiast that is focused on promoting independent business and cultivating talent in Arkansas. To accomplish this goal, she has been a part of starting Legends of Arkansas (music and craft festival), Local First Little Rock (Independent Business Alliance), the founder and former Executive Director of Local First Arkansas, and the former Director of Marketing and Development for the Argenta Arts District. Currently, Cowan is the Director of Membership Development and Communications for the Arkansas Hospitality Association and on the Executive Board of the Arkansas Festival and Events Association. In her free time she likes to help build events to create connections to boost the local economies in the communities throughout Arkansas.

Mat Faulkner, Owner & Chief “Idea” Officer, Think Idea Studio

Mat is the President & Chief “Idea” Officer of his full service marketing company, Think Idea Studio in Searcy, Arkansas. In addition to running his business he has quite the passion for community. He also is a board member of the Searcy Regional Economic Development Corporation, chair of the Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Committee, director of the Think ART Project, co-director for Searcy Beats & Eats- a monthly arts and vendors festival in downtown Searcy, he is past president and current board member for Jacob’s Place Homeless Mission, a member of Searcy’s Beautification Committee and Holiday of Lights Committee, and a 2017 member of Arkansas Business’ 40 Under 40. He also played a key and crucial role in working with organizations and small businesses in the city of Searcy to secure a spot on the Hulu original series: The Small Business Revolution in which Searcy has been awarded $500,000 to go towards 6 small businesses and has in turn created a ripple effect for small business improvement throughout the city.

Gabe Holstrom: Executive Director, Downtown Little Rock Partnership

Gabe Holmstrom has been the Executive Director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership since 2015. Prior to joining the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, he was chief of staff to the Arkansas House of Representatives for the first Republican Speaker in 138 years. Previous to that, he spent over a decade running campaigns, working for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, the Arkansas Attorney General, and the U.S. Congress, both in Arkansas and Washington D.C. And, just like almost every other communications professional in Little Rock, he spent a few years working at CJRW. Gabe also serves on the State Board of Finance, the Quapaw Quarter Association Board, and the Little Rock Sister Cities Foundation Board.