BY LEANN DILBECK –
The RMCC Foundation hosted approximately 70 regional officials and business leaders for their annual Duke Frederick Lecture series. This year’s keynote speaker was the Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission Grant Tennille.
ARCO Chair Gar Eisele presented an overview of ARCO’s many accomplishments since it was founded, namely, becoming a driving force to build regional economic development for the counties of Polk, Montgomery and Scott through commonalities such as tourism.
Tennille, a former Deputy Chief of Staff to Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, is a native of Florida and first came to Arkansas in 1992 as a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. His career has spanned communications, and providing business and strategic counsel to companies of all sizes, from Fortune 500 corporations to small start-ups.
He spoke, at length, of the importance of tourism to the local economy and challenged each to being open-minded to rapidly growing niche tourist markets as well as the importance of “connectivity.”
The endowed fund making the lecture series possible is for the public understanding of civic and economic issues and was created by Dr. William Frederick, in honor of his brother, Dr. Duke Frederick. Dr. Frederick [Duke] was the son of Duke and Rebecca Frederick of Mena. He was born in 1920 in Fort Smith but spent his early years in Mena. His father was a lawyer and served several terms as city attorney for Mena.
Duke attended Central School beginning in 1926 in the first grade, graduating from the 8th grade in 1933. He completed his freshman year at Mena High School before the family moved to Forth Smith for his father to serve as Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. Duke went on to earn his Doctor of Philosophy Degree in History from the University of Chicago in 1966.
As a professor of history, he was recognized as an outstanding teacher and highly regarded published author at Northeastern Illinois State University from 1956 to 1986 when he retired.