Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, will be the keynote speaker for the 81st annual Phillips County Chamber of Commerce banquet. Chamber Executive Director Chris Richey made the announcement Friday.

Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, will be the keynote speaker for the 81st annual Phillips County Chamber of Commerce banquet. Chamber Executive Director Chris Richey made the announcement Friday.

The annual Chamber banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11 in the Community Room of Phillips Community College's Fine Arts building.

Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Preston head of the AEDC back in March 2015. Preston is widely regarded as a leading advocate for economic development.

Before Hutchinson's appointment, Preston served 6 and 1/2 years as vice president of Government Relations for Enterprise Florida. During his tenure with Enterprise Florida, Preston was part of a team that helped secure 147,000 jobs.

During his first year with the AEDC, Preston and Hutchinson made business recruitment trips to Cuba, China, France, Germany, New York City and the Silicon Valley. The trips played a pivotal role in Arkansas landing 6,000 new jobs. More than 100 companies have either located in the state or expanded their operations here.

Before joining Enterprise Florida, Preston served as chief of staff to a Florida state senator and legislative assistant to a state representative. He is a 2005 graduate of the University of Florida.

The Chamber banquet, said Richey, will begin with the traditional cocktail hour starting at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will follow at 6:30 p.m.

"Following the dinner the Chamber's annual awards for Community Service Organization of the Year, Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year and the Lifetime Citizenship award will be presented," reported Richey.

Individual tickets and entire tables are available to reserve or purchase online at http://sgiz.mobi/s3/Banquet2017, at the Chamber office, or by calling the Chamber at (870) 338-8327.

'For additional information about the banquet," added Richey, "please don't hesitate to call the Chamber."