Member Spotlight | Arkansas Economic Developers & Chamber Executives

Member Spotlight

Dylan Edgell

Assistant Director

UCA- Center for Community & Economic Development

Dylan Edgell is the Assistant Director of the Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) at the University of Central Arkansas whose mission is to have a positive impact on communities by equipping leaders with economic tools and resources, building consensus to achieve community goals, and bringing UCA resources and communities together. Dylan is responsible for managing technical assistance projects across the state, organizing, and facilitating training events, and working with the CCED team to organize the annual Community Development Institute (CDI).

Dylan is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University with a BSBA in Economics/Finance and a graduate of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service with a Master of Public Service. He lives in Russellville with his wife and son.

  1. What do you love most about Arkansas? The natural beauty of the state is unmatched. I live in Russellville, and I am within an hour’s drive of four world-class state parks and the Buffalo National River. I’m a sucker for the outdoors and the outdoor recreation opportunities in Arkansas are hard to beat.
  2. Very few people know that I studied pre-med biology for a year at Arkansas Tech. I nearly fainted at the sight of my own blood at a blood drive at the end of my second semester and figured it wasn’t the career for me. I took an economics course that I loved and decided to become a business major.
  3. Favorite book, movie, and piece of music: Book: Moneyball by Michael Lewis; Movie: The Social Network; Piece of Music: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye
  4. If you could pick up a new skill in an instant, what would it be? I'm a big basketball fan and it's been a dream of mine since I was a kid to dunk a ball on a 10 ft goal. Being 5'7" puts me at a bit of a height disadvantage so if I could gain the skill of a 40-inch vertical I think I would have a lot of fun with it.
  5. If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it? I would take a long walk with my family.
  6. My first job was… Cook at Chick-Fil-A!
  7. The greatest risk I ever took was… Leaving my corporate retail job to go to graduate school for public service. I got a lot of questions about this decision at the time (and I’m still not sure it was the best financial decision to study public service for two years) but it has paid off tenfold in my personal life and career. Best career decision I ever made.
  8. What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community is most pressing in your mind? The issue I think about most is how communities can pair environmental sustainability with economic vitality. Both are crucial for the long-term success of the community and the planet so making sure that communities are thinking about and working towards that triple bottom line is important. There are a ton of great examples of communities across the state doing this work already that make me very hopeful and excited for the future.
  9. How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? I’ve been in my role here at UCA for a little over a year and a half. Before that, I worked briefly in international development with Heifer International and Awamaki (Peru). What I like most about my job is that I get to work directly with resilient people who truly care about their community. Community and economic development work are hard and oftentimes it's work that people think just happens by itself. Being available and working to make your community a better place to live even when you don’t necessarily get the credit is admirable. Especially through the tumultuous year we just came out of. When I see that work ethic and selflessness, I get energized to be the best that I can be for the communities we work with. It makes me proud to be a part of that work.
  10. What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? I think it’s important to nurture a collaborative mindset in this kind of work. Arkansas is just one big small town and you are just one phone call away from connecting with anyone across the state. One big thing I took away from Mid-South Basic was the importance of thinking about economic development in Arkansas as a team sport. Making sure that our communities are working together on community and economic development initiatives ensures the success of the state as a whole. A rising tide lifts all boats!

Nita McDaniel

Executive Director

Monticello Economic Development Commission

Juanita “Nita” McDaniel has served as Executive Director and COO at Monticello Economic Development Commission, Inc. (MEDC) since 2011. MEDC is a Community Based-Economic Development Organization governed by a Board of Directors representative of Monticello including public schools, university, financial institutions, business, and industry. Nita is responsible for all operations of MEDC including retaining and recruiting business and industry to Monticello/Drew County. Through her work, she has secured more than $11 million in funding for infrastructure and community projects as well as $103 million in facilities investment through industry expansions and new industry commitments.

  1. What do you love most about Arkansas? I love that Arkansas is the exception to the rule in just about everything ex: meteorology, topography, geography, geology, sociology, and the list can go on and on! And, it is my home. Always has been. Always will be.
  2. Very few people know that I was born in a medical clinic in Wilmot, Arkansas. Find that one on the map!
  3. Favorite book, movie, and piece of music: … The Shawshank Redemption.
  4. If you could pick up a new skill in an instant, what would it be? I wish I could carry a tune!
  5. If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it? With my family, of course.
  6. My first job was: At the tender age of four, I retrieved the mail from the mailbox and answered the phone for my Daddy’s home-based business when my Momma was away from the phone. I still remember some of those calls. I could only write my name, but I had a really good memory. I think the pay was a Coke and chips when Daddy took me to the store.
  7. The greatest risk I ever took was… For someone who hates public speaking and is homebody…pursuing a career such as this.
  8. What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community is most pressing in your mind? The effects of the global pandemic.
  9. How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? I’ve been in economic development for twenty years in various roles. Having the opportunity to affect the community positively is what I like most. Sometimes, it may be as simple as sharing information that helps to put pieces together for someone else. Sometimes, it’s as big as $35 million in new investment and job creation.
  10. What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? Stay humble. It’s really not about you. It’s about the people who work hard every day and want opportunities for a better life for themselves and for their families.