WELCOME TO THE very first issue of the ACDS newsletter. Everything about us is new, except for the strategic planning that brought about our existence in the first place.
In March 2017, Governor Asa Hutchinson challenged a Blue Ribbon Commission to research and provide recommendations for ways to advance the “economic competitiveness of data analytics and computing in Arkansas.” In December 2017, the Commission presented a forward-thinking report to the Governor recommending a public-private partnership to be called The Arkansas Center for Data Sciences, and outlining both short- and long-term initiatives to be spearheaded by that partnership.
Your ACDS team, which is still very small, considers it Job One to be a sustaining catalyst for that public-private partnership, which is comprised of Arkansas Government, Higher Education, and Corporations. We were officially formed as a new 501-3(c) late last year, and have spent much of the last three months visiting and talking with stakeholders throughout the state. We’ve been met with great energy and commitment, and also with great expectations.
We begin this mission with a computer- and data-science workforce that is growing faster than the national average—between 2000 and 2015, we added some 12,000 tech jobs in Arkansas. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we’re not even coming close to meeting our state’s burgeoning corporate demand. We start 2019 with nearly 5,000 jobs that require tech talent and skills that aren’t readily available. The public-private partnership, with the help of ACDS, needs to start closing that gap.
We prefer to see this challenge as a significant opportunity that can benefit each of our partners—just read the story about apprenticeships in this month’s newsletter, and you’ll see what we mean. In future issues we’ll introduce you to committed people and ambitious ideas from all over the state. It’s going to be quite a journey, so welcome aboard.