The Promise to Boost Small Business in Arkansas

Chris Jones believes that supporting small businesses is the key to building a strong economy that creates equitable, accessible opportunities for all Arkansans. Chris Jones has experienced firsthand the power that well-designed support can have on bettering livelihoods. At the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, he worked to aid entrepreneurs with access to tools and resources that contributed to a more competitive, innovative economy, and that expertise would inform his approach to small business growth.

The Arkansas economy is built on small businesses: 99.3% of Arkansas enterprises are classified as small businesses, and 48% of our workforce is employed by those operations. Small businesses include numerous industries, such as healthcare, food services, retail trade, manufacturing, and construction. While small business is ubiquitous in our communities, it is not equitable. Only 38% of small businesses are owned by women, and 16% are owned by minorities, 12% less than demographic data would suggest.

Research is clear that the main obstacles faced by small businesses are lack of access to credit, complex regulations and requirements, challenges in attracting and retaining staff, competition with large firms, and lack of state funding during economic downturns. Currently, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center work to provide credit and business training, but they are far underutilized and often lack comprehensive state funding.

A comprehensive legislative plan is the only way to revitalize Arkansan small businesses. Following models that have created well-paying jobs in other states, Chris Jones will invest in building stronger infrastructure for financially stable businesses, cutting unnecessary regulatory burdens, and supporting entrepreneurship, especially in minority communities. Beyond targeted fixes, the Jones agenda— through support for education, healthcare, and affordable housing — will create the conditions for Arkansas businesses to prosper on every front.

To create a more robust and equitable small business community, Chris Jones would:

  • Increase investments in our state’s existing but underutilized support infrastructure for businesses, like the Economic Development Commission’s Venture Capital Fund

  • Expand grant funding for place-based businesses - especially those owned by underrepresented minorities - that form the core of local economies

  • Cut down burdensome regulatory requirements and establish a small business liaison to help navigate remaining regulations

  • Create the conditions necessary for entrepreneurs to thrive in a complex world: accessible childcare, education, healthcare, and housing