LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has appointed Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation President Deke Whitbeck to the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force. Governor Hutchinson made the announcement of the formation of the task force at a press conference held Saturday at the Arkansas Department of Health.
“I sincerely appreciate the trust that Governor Hutchinson has placed in me and others on the task force knowing that we all stand on the shoulders of very knowledgeable and passionate leaders no matter what industry or group of Arkansans we represent. Governor Hutchinson’s leadership and targeted response to the virus has proven effective in reducing the spread. I look forward to the opportunity to listen, learn, and work alongside the committee members to do the right thing for the people of Arkansas and help accomplish the goal of opening our great state for business once again.”
In Arkansas, outdoor recreation accounts for roughly 96,000 direct jobs, $9.7 billion in consumer spending, $2.5 billion in wages and salaries and $698 million in state and local tax revenue. Hunters and anglers alone generate an economic impact of more than $1.6 billion annually. This includes several industry-leading air gun manufacturers, nearly two dozen boat manufacturers, one of the nation’s largest ammunition manufacturers, game-call makers, dozens of bait manufacturers and more. Additionally, many of the economic benefits from hunters and anglers is felt in rural Arkansas small businesses.
The task force includes 27 members and will be chaired by Steuart Walton. Governor Hutchinson said he anticipates the first meeting of the task force will be this week.