Michael Milken to Be Featured Speaker for 24th Business Forecast Luncheon

i-r: Michael Milken, Ross DeVol and Mervin Jebaraj
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i-r: Michael Milken, Ross DeVol and Mervin Jebaraj

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Michael Milken, chair of the Milken Institute and notable financial innovator, will be the featured speaker for the 24th Business Forecast Luncheon.

The event, coordinated by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in the World Trade Center District in Rogers.

“This is the key economic outlook event of the year for business and community leaders from across Arkansas and the surrounding region,” Walton College Dean Matt Waller said. “Having Michael Milken as the keynote speaker for the 2018 luncheon is outstanding. I look forward to hearing his insights into macroeconomic trends for the year to come.”

Milken will speak about current macroeconomic trends and about restoring the American dream for all citizens. Ross DeVol, Walton Fellow and former chief research officer for the Milken Institute, will moderate a question and answer session with Milken following his speech. Jim Walton, chair and chief executive officer of Arvest Bank Group, will introduce Michael Milken and Ross DeVol.

Mervin Jebaraj, interim director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, will provide the forecast for the local, state and regional economy.

“This will be the 24th consecutive year that the Business Forecast Luncheon brings outstanding speakers to Northwest Arkansas to talk about the latest economic trends,” Jebaraj said. “Our speakers never fail to provide insight into the economy for the coming year. We know that attendees use the information provided by these experts to build stronger, smarter companies.”

Michael Milken has been at the forefront of successful initiatives in medical research, education, public health and access to capital for more than four decades. Fortune magazine called him "The Man Who Changed Medicine" and Forbes listed him among "Visionaries Reimagining Our Children's Future." In 1982, he co-founded the Milken Family Foundation. The Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University recognizes an institute gift. As a financier, he is often said to have revolutionized modern capital markets by pricing and rewarding risk more efficiently. The thousands of companies he financed created millions of jobs. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, he earned his M.B.A. at the Wharton School. He and his wife, Lori, are members of the Giving Pledge and Founding Donors of the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution. They have three children and 10 grandchildren and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018. For more information see www.mikemilken.com.

Ross DeVol is a Walton Fellow of the Walton Family Foundation, a program enlisting subject-matter experts to conduct research and develop best practices that support the foundation’s philanthropic efforts. DeVol studies national economic trends and how they impact the American heartland. He is assessing opportunities for regional innovation ecosystems which foster job creation, wage gains and economic growth for the non-coastal areas of the nation. DeVol will work with universities, colleges, the business community, public policy leaders and philanthropy to analyze resources supporting the startup community and identify workforce and talent gaps. DeVol is former chief research officer for the Milken Institute where he spent nearly 20 years. He oversaw research on international, national and comparative regional growth performance; access to capital and its role in economic growth and job creation; and health-related topics. He has been ranked among the “Superstars of Think Tank Scholars” by International Economy magazine.

Mervin Jebaraj is the interim director of the Center for Business and Economic Research. He was previously the assistant director at the center, where he has worked since 2007. During his time at the center, he has been instrumental in creating and executing economic studies for clients such as the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Northwest Arkansas Council, the Walton Family Foundation, Arvest Bank, the University of Arkansas and many others. His work has been noted by the state’s business media. The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recognized him as one of its “Fast 15” and Arkansas Business put him on its list of “20 in their 20s.” He is an exceptional source of business and economics-related expertise that journalists and business people alike rely on to understand how national and regional issues impact Northwest Arkansas and Arkansas as a whole. He makes presentations that share the center's expertise directly to over 5,000 individuals annually and tens of thousands more hear and see his economic analysis and commentary through TV, radio and print media.

Waller expressed thanks to the sponsors who continue to support the Business Forecast Luncheon and said those sponsorships enable Walton College students to participate in the event and hear the latest trends in local and global economics.


The sponsors to date for the 2018 Business Forecast Luncheon include:  

  • Walton Presenting Partner – Walmart and Sam’s Club
  • Walton Academic Partners –Greenwood Gearhart Inc.; RMP LLP – Attorneys at Law; Smith Hurst, PLC
  • Walton Corporate Partners – Cox Communications; Frost, PLLC; Whisinvest Realty, LLC; McKee Foods Corporation; Regions Insurance
  • Walton Business Partners – AEP SWEPCO; Centennial Bank; Colliers International; Conner & Winters LLP; HoganTaylor LLP; IBERIABANK; J. B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.; Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard PLLC; Quattlebaum, Grooms and Tull PLLC; Regions Bank; Sage Partners; Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP

Registration information is being emailed this week. For more information on sponsorships or reservations for Business Forecast 2018, contact the Center for Business and Economic Research, Sam M. Walton College of Business, Willard J. Walker Hall 538, 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, 479-575-4151, fax 479-575-7687, or email: cber@walton.uark.edu. To register online, visit the Business Forecast website.

About the Center for Business and Economic Research: The center is a public service/outreach organization whose mission is to serve its constituents with the highest quality research support; basic and applied business and economic analysis; timely, relevant business, economic and related public policy information; and other outreach activities. In addition to supporting research within the college, the center supports economic development by providing economic and demographic data and analysis to business, government and individuals. The center also actively works with the economic development community of the state to build Arkansas’ capacity to create high-wage, high-skill employment.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Mervin Jebaraj, Interim Director
Center for Business and Economic Research
479-575-4151, mjebaraj@walton.uark.edu

David Speer, senior director of communications
Sam M. Walton College of Business
479-575-2539, dlspeer@uark.edu


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