Member Spotlight | Arkansas Economic Developers & Chamber Executives

Member Spotlight

Leo Cummings III

Director of Member Engagement

Conway Area Chamber of Commerce/Conway Development Corporation

Leo Cummings III helps area professionals build successful businesses in his role as director of sales and member engagement for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. He introduces prospective members to the Chamber’s suite of promotional opportunities and connects existing members with new ways to achieve their business goals. Leo is pursuing the Institute for Organization Management graduate recognition and has completed two years of the program.

Outside of work, Leo serves on the board of directors for United Way of Central Arkansas and is a founding board member of the Arkansas Creative Institute. He is the co-founder and co-host of Black Dude White Dude, a podcast that explores a wide range of topics from the differing perspectives of two best friends.

Leo is a product of Conway Public Schools and a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, where he studied public relations. He resides in Conway with his wife and two children.

  1. What do you love most about Arkansas? I love all of the ways you can experience nature here…from boats to hiking to running trails. There’s always a fun way to get outdoors.
  2. Very few people know that I am a very proficient bowler! I grew up around my mom bowling and learned my love for it from there. I have bowled in a league for 30 years.
  3. Favorite book, movie, and piece of music: Book - 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Movie – Gladiator, Hamilton…All of it.
  4. Website that I cannot live without (besides Google) Honestly IMDB. I’m a big movie guy and I’m always trying to recall what other films I know someone from.
  5. My first job was… washing bowling pins at Conway Family Bowl. You might be surprised how dirty pins get.
  6. The greatest risk I ever took was… Leaving a very good outside sales job at Cintas to go back to school.
  7. What historical figure do you admire most? I’m aware this may be recency bias, but I would say, Alexander Hamilton. He was extremely determined and could do anything he set his mind to, he was diligent, and he sought out opportunities to fight literally and figuratively for what he believed in.
  8. What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community is most pressing in your mind? Equity in the workplace. Ensuring everyone has equal access to opportunities.
  9. How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? I’ve been at the Chamber for nearly 5 years. I enjoy learning about the different businesses and the individuals that represent them. I love finding ways to get them involved that suit their needs, and watching their business grow through connections or investments they’ve made with my assistance.
  10. What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Don’t be afraid to see what other Chambers/communities are doing, see if you can improve upon it or make it work in your area. In our office, we call that R&D; rip off and duplicate.

Karen Davis, PCED

Community Development Director

City of Lowell

Karen Davis is a Community Development Director for the City of Lowell, working closely with community partners such as businesses, community organizations, and the public to develop strategies for improving economic and community initiatives while preserving neighborhood or community cohesion. Karen has the responsibility of protecting the quality of life of the residents of Lowell through the implementation and enforcement of the community’s standards for development. She supervises a broad portfolio of activities and events which foster a strong and active community including urban planning, increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources, and guide comprehensive planning that determines community goals and aspirations.

  1. What do you love most about Arkansas? What is there not to love about Arkansas? I suppose my favorite thing about Arkansas is the genuine, kind-hearted people who live in this wonderful state. Between the welcoming atmosphere and the warm smiles that greet you at every turn, it’s no wonder that Arkansas feels like “home.”
  2. Very few people know that I enjoy spending my leisure time fishing and hunting. I grew up in a rural area of Arkansas where my love of outdoor sports was fostered early on. In fact, it was this connection with the outdoors that inspired me to write over $1 million in grants to improve public parks and recreation for Lowell, and there so improving the quality of life for those in the NWA region.
  3. Favorite book, movie, and piece of music: … Favorite book Ernest Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea”. Favorite show is Hamilton, favorite piece of music “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.
  4. Website that I cannot live without (besides Google) www.lowellarkansas.gov
  5. My first job was: in Dumas, Arkansas where I worked in a video store which leased VHS tapes. The video store was located about four blocks from my house, across a major highway. Since I did not own a car at that time, I would walk to work through rain, sleet, snow, and shine.
  6. The greatest risk I ever took was… taking a leap of faith and leaving the rural Delta region of the state where I was born and raised, moving away from family, friends, and everything I had ever known, and relocating to Northwest Arkansas for job opportunities. The reward of this decision has far outweighed the risk. Twenty-five years later, I still call Northwest Arkansas home.
  7. What historical figure do you admire most? Rosa Parks because she sparked a movement by standing her ground against oppressive regulations which restricted basic human rights.
  8. What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community is most pressing in your mind? The most pressing issue on my mind currently is the struggle that most business owners are now facing with economic recovery from the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. With unprecedented challenges, the pandemic pushed the economy to a deafening halt, of which every business owner in the country felt to some degree. My heart really goes out to the businesses that were not able to recover from the shutdown.
  9. How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession? What do you like most about your job? I have been involved in economic development for the past decade. What I like most about my job is the reward of successfully assisting a business to establish roots in Lowell, Arkansas.
  10. What is the best career advice you would give someone in the chamber/economic development profession? Small things make a big difference. It is very important to continue to stay active with all businesses in your community, and never forget the smaller businesses. Small businesses are not only the backbone of your community; they are the backbone of America. Never stop encouraging their growth.