Entrepreneurs Show Local Business Leaders How to Fall in Love with Rural Economy

The keynote speakers at the Economic Regional Development Summit each brought something different to Central Louisiana.

CEO and Vice President of Economic Alliance of Snohomish County Garry Clark asks business leaders:

“What’s so important about being in Alexandria? What’s so important about being in Louisiana? Why rural? People want to know. How are you telling your story?”

Vice Chancellor of CLTCC Workforce Solutions Misty Slayter says, “He just did a wonderful job of reaching out, opening up, making a comfortable space to have a discussion.”

CEO and Vice President of Economic Alliance of Snohomish County Garry Clark says, “And is it just about you? Or is it about other folks and their journey and the connectivity that makes us all human?”

Garry Clark says he connected to rural areas when he moved to Blair, Nebraska as a kid.

“Nebraska saved my life because I was a homeless kid, I had nowhere to go, I got a provisional offer to go to college and I just hit the ground running and all my opportunities came out of rural America. We all suffer the same circumstances, the same issues, the same heartbreak. In rural America, you will find the same person with my story.

Garry Clark says, “You have to be willing to take a risk in order to get to that economic growth, and the economy is based on the economy taking chances to make life better. That’s business so if you’re willing to go that extra mile, you’ll find yourself in a more successful place.”


Vice Chancellor of CLTCC Workforce Solutions Misty Slayter says, “As a teacher I can always appreciate someone who models the process and how it should be done.”

Entrepreneurs came to Central Louisiana to encourage business leaders to think bigger, embrace diversity, and connect to each other.

Executive Director of Public Transformation Ashley Hanson says, “When you are loved, you feel seen, you feel seen, you feel heard, you feel appreciated, and you feel invested in.”

Ashley Hanson taught business leaders how to love who they are and where they are.

“Being able to celebrate those assets and resources that are already there, the culture that already exists, the people that are already in the place, falling in love with that first, that’s how you can build a strong base and that desire to really think about what’s possible, the potential for the future. Create spaces where people feel safe and loved so they can make that invitation and share stories and experiences, getting that heartbeat going together.”


Louisiana Economic Development Director of Government Affairs Makesha Judson says she wants to expand her business and connect with others.

“Also looking at job growth and how we can better improve and improve their quality of life for the residents here in Central Louisiana.”


Ashley Hanson says, “As you think about your relationship to your place, try on the idea of moving from “You drive me crazy to “You drive me crazy.’”

Each speaker challenges the community to be proactive and push entrepreneurship.

Louisiana Central hopes this summit will encourage the public to invest in their local economy.

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