EDITORIAL: A new state nickname?

A strong argument could be made to blend the state's current nickname (Natural State) with the old one (Land of Opportunity). Maybe it could be called The Land of Natural Opportunity?

According to the paper, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is sponsoring a pair of companies in the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's Greenhouse Outdoor Recreation Program. For these companies, it's a big deal.

The 12-week program began last week and will run through mid-April. According to Ryan Anderson's story, the program supports outdoor startups with workshop training, team mentoring, and dedicated product/service development to help them scale globally.

Or so said Brandon Howard, communications and social media specialist in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the university. It also provides as much as $15,000 in "non-dilutive seed funding."

"Non-dilutive" means it's $15,000 of capital that comes with few, if any, strings attached--including the owners giving up any company equity. It's essentially a free grant that can be spent in a variety of ways.

Classes are involved that include topics from financial planning to customer discovery.

Game and Fish is sponsoring Osage Creek Camps, which aims to train the next generation in fly fishing and conservation, as well as Big Sky Rentals, which seeks to make outdoor recreation more affordable by renting top-quality gear and shipping it directly to customers or their destinations.

The passion of Osage Creek Camps and Big Sky Rentals "for the outdoors and relationship with outdoor industry make them a natural partner for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission as we work to ... connect Arkansans to the outdoors," said Austin Booth, director of Game and Fish. "As we continue to see more Arkansans with the desire to connect with wild places and wild things, removing barriers to entry is a critical step to help these people enjoy those experiences."

Since its founding in spring 2022, more than two dozen startups have launched or expanded their businesses through the program. With more to come, we hope.

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