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I Am Northwest Arkansas

The I am Northwest Arkansas Podcast covers the intersection of Business, Culture, Entrepreneurship, and Life in Benton and Washington County Arkansas. If you are thinking about moving here or already live here, we've got great inspiring stories, ideas, things to do, places to see, people to meet, and food to eat. Learn why we are one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas of the US.

I Am Northwest Arkansas Episodes
  • About the Show:"We want to build the kinds of communities where our kids will want to raise their kids."Dexter CaffeyAbout the Guest:Dexter Caffey is the innovative CEO of Smart Eye Technology, where he leads the way in revolutionizing data protection through continuous facial recognition technology. Based in Northwest Arkansas, Dexter focuses on creating a secure digital environment for both businesses and consumers. He's an alumnus of Youngstown State University and has a background in commodities trading, further showcasing his diverse professional expertise. Dexter's recent move to Northwest Arkansas was initiated by an invitation from the nonprofit organization Startup Junkie, aiming to nurture his groundbreaking company within the region's thriving technology ecosystem.Episode Summary:In this episode of the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast, host Randy Wilburn welcomes Dexter Caffey, CEO of Smart Eye Technology, to discuss the synergies of business, culture, and entrepreneurship in the Ozarks. Dexter shares his journey from Atlanta to the vibrant technology scene of Northwest Arkansas and the factors that influenced his relocation.Dexter narrates his experience with the startup accelerator program fueled by Startup Junkie, detailing his initial hesitations and the subsequent success that propelled him to make Northwest Arkansas the new home for Smart Eye Technology. He delves into the company's mission to combat data breaches with innovative facial recognition software. Listening to Dexter's stories and aspirations unravels how community spirit and a strong startup ecosystem are shaping the business landscape in Northwest Arkansas.Key Takeaways:Dexter Caffey was recruited by Startup Junkie to bring Smart Eye Technology to Northwest Arkansas, emphasizing the region's dedication to fostering technology startups.Smart Eye Technology specializes in continuous facial recognition for securing data, with upcoming plans to launch a Chrome browser extension for consumers and businesses alike.Dexter shares insights on how the friendly and supportive business environment in Northwest Arkansas was a significant factor in his decision to relocate.He highlights the rampant issue of data breaches and fraud, demonstrating the critical need for advanced security measures like those provided by Smart Eye Technology.The episode sheds light on the beauty of Northwest Arkansas's nature, which Dexter appreciates alongside the thriving business and tech community.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email Get Smart EyeWebsite Smart Eye TechnologySmart Eye Technology on FacebookSmart Eye Technology on YouTubeSmart Eye Technology on LinkedInSmart Eye Technology on InstagramTune in to
  • About the Show:"Cities are the vanguard of problem-solving in the modern world."Bruce KatzAbout the Guest:Bruce Katz, a renowned urban policy expert and the founding director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University, joins us to share his deep insights on the transformative power of cities. With a rich background that includes advising urban leaders globally and authoring the pivotal book "The New Localism," Bruce brings a wealth of knowledge on how cities can flourish amidst the challenges of our time.Episode Summary:In this episode, host Randy Wilburn sits down with Bruce Katz at Gorog X Studio in Bentonville, Arkansas, to explore the concept of "new localism" and how cities are becoming the epicenter of innovation and growth. They delve into the pressing issue of affordable housing, the reshoring of American manufacturing, and the unique opportunities that Northwest Arkansas presents as a rapidly growing region.Bruce shares his experiences working with urban leaders, the lessons learned from cities like Pittsburgh and Copenhagen, and the importance of local collaboration in addressing housing, transportation, and economic development. He emphasizes the need for cities to act as economies, leveraging their unique assets to create inclusive and sustainable growth.Key Takeaways:Bruce Katz illuminates the role of cities as engines of problem-solving and innovation, particularly in times of national discord.The discussion sheds light on the critical nature of affordable housing and the potential of initiatives like groundwork to address this challenge in Northwest Arkansas.Bruce's expertise underscores the significance of local governments, businesses, and citizens understanding and embracing the long game for sustainable development.The conversation highlights the power of collaborative ecosystems in driving progress and the transformative impact of universities and industry leaders working in tandem.Listeners are encouraged to rethink the role of federal and state governments, viewing them as supporters of local economies rather than top-down decision-makers.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email Bruce KatzWebsite Drexel UniversityDrexel University on FacebookSign up for The New Localism Newsletter here.Tune in to KUAF 91.3 FM to listen to the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast on Ozarks at Large every Tuesday at 12 Noon and 7 PM CST. And, check us out on their podcast as well. This episode is sponsored by*Signature Bank of Arkansas "Community Banking at its Best!" Northwest Arkansas Council - "Life Works Here!" Try ONBoardNWA.com...
  • About the Show:"Northwest Arkansas is part of Arkansas. You're going to find a lot of different areas, and, no matter what you're into, you're going to find your people."Brittany SwiderskiAbout the Guests:This podcast episode offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of Brittany and Amin, a young couple who uprooted from New York to Northwest Arkansas just before the pandemic turned the world upside down. With Amin's new job as their compass, they took a leap of faith into the unknown. Little did they realize how much their big move would pay off.Hailing from disparate parts of North America initially, neither Brittany nor Amin knew much about Arkansas before landing there. In fact, the only news they ever heard about the state involved some sort of tragedy. To counter the bad press, the duo started documenting their experience through an Instagram account called "NWA Transplants." They hoped to showcase the many positives of living in Northwest Arkansas that aren't visible from afar.Over time, Brittany and Amin have evolved their social media style and built connections by highlighting local events, the arts, music, small businesses, and more hidden gems. As Brittany notes, they wanted to share "what this area is really like when you're living there." From finding community during the first wave of COVID-19 to discovering common interests through happenstance meetings, the couple has embraced the opportunities around them to build a life—and make an impact.Episode Summary:The conversation covers their initial reservations about moving, the surprising discoveries upon arrival, and the evolving landscape of NWA. They share insights into the importance of dental health, the joy of finding community, and the unexpected encounters that have enriched their lives. Randy and his guests also discuss the challenges of housing, the power of social media storytelling, and the future aspirations for their platform.Key Takeaways:Brittany and Amin's story is a compelling narrative of finding one's place in an unexpected corner of the world.Their Instagram account @nwatransplants serves as a beacon for others contemplating a move to Northwest Arkansas and for locals discovering the hidden gems in their backyard.The episode explores the couple's commitment to community engagement, the celebration of NWA's growth, and the genuine desire to contribute positively to the region.Through humor, authenticity, and relatable content, they've managed to build a platform that resonates with a diverse audience.The discussion highlights the importance of being proactive in one's community, the power of storytelling, and the role each resident plays in shaping the future of Northwest Arkansas.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email NWA TransplantsNWA Transplants on InstagramNWA Transplants on FacebookTune in to KUAF 91.3 FM to listen to the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast on Ozarks at Large every Tuesday at 12 Noon and 7 PM CST. And, check us out on their
  • About the Show:"Allowing people to work within their strength strengthens our whole operations of the food pantry."Monique JonesAbout the Guest:Monique Jones is a pastor and the Director of Outreach and Community Engagement at the St. James Food Pantry, part of the Squire Jahagan Outreach Center, a non-profit arm of St. James, the oldest African American church in Northwest Arkansas. With a poignant history in Human Resources, including a 25-year stint of notable work that led her to Northwest Arkansas on a relocation project, Monique transitioned to full-time service, deeply embedding herself within the community. Her dedication to nurturing neighbors and serving the food insecure through innovative means has defined her position as a central figure in local outreach and ministry beyond the church's walls.Episode Summary:In this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, host Randy Wilburn delves into an intimate conversation with Monique Jones. The dialogue not only celebrates her contributions to the community but also spotlights the intersection of business, culture, and life as shaped by individuals like Monique in the Ozarks.Randy and Monique discuss the inherent challenges and triumphs in addressing food insecurity in the region, particularly during the pandemic. Monique shares her unique journey from an HR executive to a devoted servant leader, applying Kaizen methodology to streamline operations at the food pantry. Their conversation unravels the fabric of community resilience and engagement, revealing how the power of collaboration across various entities, including public service officers, can meet extensive needs in creative ways.Key Takeaways:Monique Jones' journey from a corporate executive to leading a food pantry redefines community service, showcasing a seamless transition from business acumen to humanitarian efforts.The St. James Food Pantry mobilized an inclusive and extensive response to food insecurity, especially during the pandemic, serving as a beacon of hope across Northwest Arkansas.Introducing the first food locker in Arkansas, Monique illustrates innovation in addressing food accessibility, indicating plans for expansion to support rural areas.The episode underscores the importance of human connection, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity in addressing community needs, transcending beyond racial and socio-economic lines.Leveraging partnerships with local law enforcement and organizations has helped redefine community policing and support for vulnerable populations.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email Monique JonesWebsite Squire Jehegan Outreach CenterSquire Jehegan Outreach Center on FacebookTune in to KUAF 91.3 FM to listen to the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast on Ozarks at Large every Tuesday at 12 Noon and 7 PM CST. And, check us out on their podcast as...
  • About the Show:"There's a lot of culture here in Northwest Arkansas even then. So what I ran into in my job at that time, I worked with a lot of business leaders, the church community, but also I worked with what they identified themselves as the hillbilly community."James HawkinsAbout the Guest:James Hawkins is a seasoned therapist and the clinical coordinator for the Joshua Center. With a depth of experience in psychology and counseling, James holds a Master's Degree and a PhD in his field. He is a former Air Force member who has served the country with honor and has continued to serve the community through his dedication to mental health and relational work. James is also known for his podcast, "The Leading Edge in Emotionally Focused Therapy," where he shares his expertise with other clinicians.Episode Summary:In this episode of the I am Northwest Arkansas Podcast, host Randy Wilburn engages in a rich conversation with guest James Hawkins. The episode peels back layers surrounding the intersectionality of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in the Ozarks. It is a narrative journey through James's transition into the community as a transplant and how he found a home in Northwest Arkansas, despite its striking contrasts to his previous experiences living in the South and New Orleans.James and Randy discuss the nuances of community and identity, especially for African American individuals like themselves, in a majority space. They delve into the subject of mental health and the importance of seeking help through channels like face-to-face therapy rather than solely through emerging platforms like online counseling. James conveys strong arguments for why therapeutic relationships are most effective in person, drawing from his extensive experience in the field.Key Takeaways:Northwest Arkansas's welcoming community and entrepreneurial spirit make it a home for many, including transplants.Mental health conversation is essential, and the stigma around seeking therapy needs to be diminished, especially in the African American community.Maintaining mental health is crucial, much like servicing a vehicle; one must not delay addressing their emotional and psychological needs.The growth and diversity of Northwest Arkansas benefit the community, enriching it with new flavors and ideas.The importance of building a responsible, regional transit system and affordable living spaces to align with Northwest Arkansas’s growth trajectory.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email Doc Hawk LPCWebsite Doc Hawk LPCDoc Hawk LPC on FacebookDoc Hawk LPC on InstagramDoc Hawk LPC on LinkedInTune in to KUAF 91.3 FM to listen to the I Am Northwest Arkansas
  • About the Show:"When they walk through that door, there are no differences. That's what we want to drive home."Casey DickAbout the Guest:Casey Dick is a prominent figure in high school sports, known for his illustrious career both on and off the field. With roots in Allen, Texas, Dick has a storied background as a former quarterback for the University of Arkansas (U of A), where he was a three-year starter and letterman. Post his active sports career, Dick has made a significant transition into the coaching realm, currently serving as the head coach of the Fayetteville High School Bulldogs football team. He has earned a reputation for his ability to bring teams together, foster a sense of community, and mold future leaders through the medium of high school football.Episode Summary:In this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, host Randy Wilburn engages with Coach Casey Dick, the mastermind behind the Fayetteville High School Bulldogs' triumphant season. With a personal perspective as a parent and a keen observer, Wilburn sets the stage for a deep dive into the dynamics of successful team-building, the profound impact of sports on young lives, and the indispensable role of community support in youthful development.Coach Dick opens up about his early inspirations and the path that led him from player to coach. Drawing on his rich experience, he emphasizes the significance of forging strong relationships between coaches and players and introduces the Bulldogs' distinct "family" ethos that underpins their program's success. The episode shines a spotlight on the integral contributions of not just the athletes but also the supportive network of parents and Fayetteville residents, showcasing how collective efforts contribute to the Bulldogs' sterling 13-0 record.Key Takeaways:The power of a team sport, like football, in bringing together communities and shaping the lives of young athletes.The journey of Casey Dick from playing at U of A to coaching high school football and the life lessons learned along the way.Fayetteville High School's unique approach to building leadership skills and personal growth in its football program.The invaluable role of parents and the local community in providing the resources and support necessary for every student-athlete to thrive.Coach Dick's commitment to treating football as a medium for long-term development, rather than solely focusing on wins.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email Casey DickCasey Dick on FacebookTune in to KUAF 91.3 FM to listen to the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast on Ozarks at Large every Tuesday at 12 Noon and 7 PM CST. And, check us out on their podcast as well. This episode is sponsored by*Signature Bank of Arkansas "Community Banking at its Best!" Northwest Arkansas Council -...
  • About the Show:"I just wanted something a little more out of it, something a little more spiritual. But I think food is just one of those things that you can touch people's lives with everything you do every day."Michael RobertshawAbout the Guest:Chef Michael Robertshaw is a seasoned culinary expert with deep roots in the New England culinary tradition, particularly from the Boston area. With a professional journey spanning various locations, including Seattle, Michael has a history of designing and implementing restaurants for notable groups such as Ropeswing Group in Bentonville. His Greek-Italian heritage has influenced his cooking style, leading him to establish Pizzeria Ruby in Northwest Arkansas, which has become a testament to his family's culinary legacy and his commitment to delivering high-quality, authentic cuisine.Episode Summary:In this episode of the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast, host Randy Wilburn engages in conversation with Chef Michael Robertshaw, the creative force behind the acclaimed Pizzeria Ruby. Renowned for its bustling atmosphere and New England-inspired pizza, Pizzeria Ruby has quickly established itself as a culinary cornerstone in the Ozarks.The episode opens by plunging into the chef's journey, documenting his transition from the diverse food scene of Boston to the evolving culinary landscape of Northwest Arkansas. Throughout the discussion, Michael reflects on his enduring attachment to his New England origins and the impactful role his family has played in his gastronomic path. The conversation then shifts to the unparalleled rise of Pizzeria Ruby, highlighting the passionate insistence on quality and authentic experience that has led to its success.Key Takeaways:Chef Michael Robertshaw's culinary background is steeped in New England tradition, with his Greek-Italian family influencing his approach to food.The inspiration for Pizzeria Ruby was born out of Michael's desire to create an authentic dining experience reminiscent of East Coast pizzerias.Pizzeria Ruby's popularity stems from a dedication to quality and a refusal to compromise on the 18-inch pizza offering despite initial doubts about regional preferences.The impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry sparked innovation, prompting Michael and his team to adapt and even consider expansion due to demand.Pizzeria Ruby is not only a venue for exceptional pizza but also offers a range of options like vegan pizza and specialty beverages, cementing its role as a community cornerstone.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email Pizzeria RubyEmail Meredith ButlerWebsite Pizzeria RubyPizzeria Ruby on InstagramPizzeria Ruby on Facebookhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG_I38wIusMTune in to
  • About the Show:"If you're not growing, you're dying. Nothing's going to stay the same forever."Nick CastinAbout the Guests:Nick and Meredith Castin, a dynamic couple originally from San Diego, have made the picturesque Northwest Arkansas their new home. Meredith, with strong roots in Northeast Texas, aspired to be closer to family and sought out a community that resonates with warmth, connection, and a sense of belonging. Nick, accustomed to the vibes of Southern California, embarked on this journey with Meredith, embracing the move with an open mind. Together, they represent the influx of transplants attracted to the Ozarks' charm and have immersed themselves deeply into the fabric of local life, particularly in advocating for active transportation and sustainable development.Episode Summary:In this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the hosts welcome the energetic couple, Nick and Meredith Castin. This particular discussion takes a deep dive into the lives of these recent transplants from San Diego, unraveling their intriguing journey to settling in the heart of the Ozarks. The Castins share their perspectives on the community, culture, and opportunities that Northwest Arkansas has to offer, particularly highlighting the area's trail system and the embracement of newcomers.The couple candidly discusses their initial apprehensions about moving and how they've not only adjusted but flourished in Northwest Arkansas. They touch on the region's focus on community connection, economic growth, and the embracement of organic development to ensure a thriving future. Nick and Meredith also provide valuable insights into their efforts to contribute to the area through their new podcast, "Fayette Forward," which centers on city planning, active transportation, and maintaining an equitable living environment for all residents.Key Takeaways:Nick and Meredith Castin's move to Northwest Arkansas embodies the search for community, affordable living, and a balance of urban amenities amidst natural beauty.Emphasizing their goal to embrace the local culture, the Castins highlight the welcoming nature of Northwest Arkansas residents and the ease of establishing meaningful connections.Meredith has rekindled her passion for roller skating, finding joy in the region's trail system and skating community.The discussion brings to light critical themes of sustainable growth, the importance of density in urban planning, and advocacy for active transportation, underpinning their "Fayette Forward" podcast.The episode encapsulates the transition from being transplants to feeling like true locals in Northwest Arkansas, underscoring the area's magnetic appeal.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email Fayette Forward ShowWebsite Fayette Forward ShowFayette Forward Show on Instagram on InstagramFayette Forward on TwitterTune in to KUAF 91.3...
  • About the Show:"What percentage do you think are people who have moved here within the last ten years?"Kyle KellamsAbout the Guest:In this episode, host Randy Wilburn is joined by Kyle Kellams, the well-known voice behind KUAF 91.3 FM's "Ozarks at Large." Kyle's seasoned experience as a radio host and interviewer brings a unique perspective to the conversation, offering insights into the power of community storytelling. His deep connection with Northwest Arkansas, stemming from his extensive career in public radio, provides a rich backdrop for the discussion on the growth and development of the region.Episode Summary:I am Northwest Arkansas captures another inspiring episode with host Randy Wilburn. This opens a narrative celebrating the podcast's fifth anniversary. Focusing on the essence of Northwest Arkansas, Randy and local radio persona Kyle Kellams dive into the stories and adventures of those who, like himself, have made the Ozarks their home. The bonus episode introduces their NWA Transplant Series, deeply rooted in business, culture, and the shared experiences of the community.Randy reflects on his relocation to Northwest Arkansas and the evolution of the podcast. Emphasizing its role as an invaluable guide, he considers its impact on new and prospective residents, addressing their curiosity and concerns with genuine, unpolished stories from fellow transplants. The conversation shifts to Kyle, who thoughtfully probes Randy's journey—unpacking the transformation from a fresh transplant to a devoted local, shedding light on the sentiments that bond newcomers to this vibrant region.From the natural beauty of the Ozarks to the warm embrace of its people, the episode distills the allure driving the region's increasing appeal—painting Northwest Arkansas as a wellspring of entrepreneurship and growth. As Randy's and Kyle's exchange unfurls, it becomes clear that the podcast's unique role is not just in celebrating the place but in fostering a greater sense of community across the changing landscape.Key Takeaways:Northwest Arkansas' Unique Appeal: The region's natural beauty and friendly community are major attractions for new residents.Sense of Home: Randy shares his journey from a recent transplant to feeling at home in Northwest Arkansas.Growing Community Narrative: The episode highlights the importance of sharing personal transplant stories to build and understand the community.Diverse Perspectives: A varied lineup of guests ensures a rich representation of experiences within the NWA Transplant Series.Fostering Connections: The podcast functions as a bridge between long-term residents and newcomers, illustrating shared values and aspirations.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Kyle Kellams on KUAF 91.3 FMTune in to KUAF 91.3 FM to listen to the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast on Ozarks at Large every Tuesday both at 12 Noon and 7 PM CST. And, check us out on their podcast as well. This episode...
  • About the Show:"We always feel like we're working very hard... I think we feel immensely grateful to have ended up in Northwest Arkansas."Lacie BrayAbout the Guest:Lacie Bray is a co-owner and visionary behind Ozark Beer Company, a craft brewery based in the Ozarks, celebrating the intersection of traditional brewing styles and community building. Together with her husband, Andy Coates, they founded Ozark Beer Company in 2013, which is renowned for its sustainable brewing practices and local engagement. Lacie boasts a rich background intertwined with the ethos of the Ozarks, childhood roots in Northwest Arkansas, and diverse experiences from Colorado to Chicago. Her passion lies in creating spaces that mirror and serve the community’s preferences and values.Episode Summary:This episode of the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast welcomes Lacie Bray from Ozark Beer Company, as she shares the profound journey of entrepreneurship, community engagement, and brewing innovation in the heart of the Ozarks. Listeners are taken on a tale of the brewery's genesis from an idea born amidst the scenic beauty of Walla Walla, Washington, to a flourishing community staple in downtown Rogers, Arkansas.At the core of the conversation is the unique beer philosophy of Ozark Beer Company. Lacie delves into their focus on traditional brewing styles, sustainable practices, and responsiveness to community tastes – from their core beers to the introduction of kombucha on tap. The episode illuminates Ozark Beer Company's commitment to authenticity, local engagement, and creating a gathering place that extends beyond the brewing of beer. Optimized with SEO keywords like "craft beer," "sustainable brewing," and "community-focused brewery," these summaries encapsulate the brand's mission and the personal touch that Lacie brings to her work.Key Takeaways:Ozark Beer Company is deeply rooted in the local community of Northwest Arkansas, reflecting the region's values and culture through its brewery and taproom.The brewing philosophy at Ozark is grounded in traditional styles while remaining responsive to emerging trends and community preferences.Sustainability is key for Ozark Beer Company, from the use of cans due to their recyclability to partnerships for grain repurposing and storm drain education.The brewery was strategically established in an area known for welcoming new laws favorable for breweries, post-dry county status, and enhancing the local craft beer scene.Ozark Beer Company actively creates a gathering space for the community, hosting events, partnering with local organizations, and emphasizing local support through its small yet impactful team.All this and more on this episode of the I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast.Important Links and Mentions on the Show*Email Lacie BrayWebsite for Ozark Beer CompanyOzark Beer Company on FacebookOzark Beer Company on InstagramTune in to KUAF 91.3 FM to listen to the I Am Northwest Arkansas