Experts Set to Discuss Economy at 25th Business Forecast Luncheon

The crowd on hand for the 2018 Business Forecast luncheon.
Photo by David Speer

The crowd on hand for the 2018 Business Forecast luncheon.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A panel of three distinguished economists will speak Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, on the regional, national and international economic outlook for the coming year at the 25th annual Business Forecast luncheon.

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

Panelists for the luncheon are:

  • Moderator: Amy Tu, executive vice president, general counsel, Tyson Foods.
  • International Speaker: Carolyn L. Evans, head economist and senior data scientist, Intel Corporation
  • Domestic Speaker: Ross DeVol, Walton Fellow, Walton Family Foundation
  • Regional Speaker: Mervin Jebaraj, director, Center for Business and Economic Research

“All of the Northwest Arkansas business community – indeed business people from all over the state – look forward each year to hearing from the economists assembled for the Business Forecast luncheon,” said Matt Waller, dean of the Walton College. “Their discussion of what to look out for in the economy in the next year is always lively, intriguing and invaluable for business and community leaders from Northwest Arkansas, the state and the region.”

Waller pointed out that the insights and networking that come out of the Business Forecast would not be possible without the continued strong support of event sponsors. He said the sponsors’ generosity allowed dozens of Walton College students to attend who could not otherwise.

“Each year, I am gratified at the interest and level of participation in the Business Forecast by the top business people from the area, the state and the region,” Jebaraj said. “Top economists get the opportunity to present their insights about the economy and provide key data and analysis. We know that many of the leaders who attend the Business Forecast luncheon use that information to make their organizations stronger.”

Sponsors to date for the 2019 Business Forecast luncheon include:  

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

For more information on sponsorships or reservations for Business Forecast 2019, 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 e-mail: To register online, visit the Business Forecast website.


Tu is executive vice president and general counsel at Tyson Foods. She is responsible for Tyson’s legal, government affairs, ethics and compliance and internal audit functions enterprise-wide. She has oversight of all legal matters including litigation and investigations, corporate securities and governance, mergers and acquisitions, international, labor and employment, environmental and health and safety.

She also leads Tyson Ventures, a venture capital fund investing in companies developing breakthrough technologies, business models and products to sustainably feed the growing world population. She is a member of Tyson Foods’ enterprise leadership team and reports to Noel White, Tyson president and chief executive officer.

Tu joined Tyson from The Boeing Company, where she held leadership positions in law and corporate development and strategy. She served as chief counsel for Boeing global law affairs, commercial airplanes and aviation services divisions, supporting multiple business and functional leaders worldwide. She also was instrumental in helping to shape the global law affairs practice as Boeing’s first regional counsel based in London, U.K., with responsibilities for commercial, military and defense matters in Europe, Russia and Israel. Prior to joining Boeing in 2001, Tu led global transactions and international legal matters as an international corporate counsel at the Gap and Walmart.

Tu earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Wellesley College. She is a director on the University of Arkansas National Alumni Board and was selected as a Johnson Fellow for the U of A.

Carolyn L. Evans

Evans is head economist and senior data scientist at Intel Corp. Prior to joining Intel, she was associate professor of economics at Santa Clara University, senior economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, senior staff economist for international trade on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She has published academic articles and books in the areas of international trade, political economy, global macroeconomics and corporate finance. 

Evans holds a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Arts in economics and a Bachelor of Arts in east Asian languages and civilizations from Harvard University. She also holds a Master of Science from the London School of Economics. She is a member of the Conference of Business Economists, the Harvard University Discussion Group of Industrial Economists, the National Association for Business Economics and the American Economic Association. She serves on the Board of Directors of NABE and the advisory board for the M.S. in business analytics program at Santa Clara University.

Ross DeVol

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. He is assessing opportunities for regional innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems that foster job creation, wage gains and economic growth for the American Heartland. He works 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, an economic think tank headquartered in California, 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. DeVol is transitioning to lead the new Core Economic Institute, which will have a mission of improving economic performance in the center of the United States. The institute will pursue its mission through independent, data-driven research, action-oriented convenings and impactful policy recommendations.

Mervin Jebaraj

Jebaraj is the 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 online, broadcast and print media.

About the Walton College 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.


David Speer, director of communications
Sam M. Walton College of Business

Mervin Jebaraj, director
Center for Business and Economic Research


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