University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Business Forecast Luncheon

Each year, the Center for Business and Economic Research hosts the Business Forecast Luncheon, gathering national and international experts to discuss the economic outlook for Arkansas, the nation and the world. The 2017 Business Forecast Luncheon was held on January 27, 2017 from 11:30am to 1:30pm at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, Arkansas. You can download a copy of the 2017 Business Forecast program or view the event video here.

Moderator: Shelley Simpson

Shelly Simpson

Shelley Simpson is the Chief Marketing Officer of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., President of J.B. Hunt Integrated Capacity Solutions (ICS) and Truck, and is an Executive Vice President of the parent company.

After graduating in 1994 from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a marketing degree, she began her career at J. B. Hunt. Her career has included positions across various business segments including: Director of Pricing for Truck and Intermodal, Vice President of Economic Analysis, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration. In 2007, Shelley assumed the role of President of Integrated Capacity Solutions. In 2011, she assumed the sales and marketing executive responsibilities and was appointed as the company's Chief Marketing Officer. In 2014, she also assumed the position of President of J.B. Hunt's truck division.

Shelley lives in Rogers with her husband of 19 years, David, and their three children. She enjoys her family time and active participation in her faith as a member of Cross Church at Pinnacle Hills and as a board member of WorkMatters. Shelley is also a board member of Mercy, a member of the Walton College Dean's Executive advisory board, and is extremely devoted to causes related to promoting women in the workplace. In 2016, she was awarded with the Distinguished Woman in Logistics award by Women in Trucking organization.


International Forecaster: Stuart Mackintosh

Stuart Mackintosh

Stuart Mackintosh is the Executive Director of the Group of Thirty, an international financial think tank comprised of senior figures from central banking, the financial sector, and academia. He is responsible for all aspects of the organization's work program, fundraising, and program of events. The Group's mission is to deepen understanding of international economic and financial issues, to explore the international repercussions of decisions taken in the public and private sectors, and to examine the choices available to market practitioners and policymakers.

Dr. Mackintosh has a B.A. and Ph.D. from Newcastle University and a M.Sc. from the University of Edinburgh. He is a Certified Business Economist (CBE).

Domestic Forecaster: Ellen Hughes-Cromwick

Ellen Hughes CromwickChief Economist Dr. Ellen Hughes-Cromwick serves as the Secretary of Commerce's principal adviser on economic matters and as a member of the Secretary's principal management team. She is on leave as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, following a distinguished, 18-year career with the Ford Motor Company as Director and Chief Global Economist.

Dr. Hughes-Cromwick joined the Ford Motor company in 1996, and was promoted to Chief Global Economist in 2004, where she focused on global economic and automotive industry forecasts used to support Ford's business strategy, finance, and planning. She also served as a senior economist at Mellon Bank from 1990 to 1996. Prior to joining Mellon Bank, Ellen was assistant professor at Trinity College and also served as a staff economist at the President's Council of Economic Advisers. She is a past president of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), and recently completed a 5-year term on the Board of Directors for the National Bureau for Economic Research.

Dr. Hughes-Cromwick works to support economic education initiatives and has served on the NABE steering committee to implement the Certification Program for business economists (CBE). She was recently awarded the CBE designation and continues to support ongoing improvements in the CBE. Ellen is also a Board member of the NABE Foundation which sponsors education scholarships for professionals attending NABE CBE courses, the NABE Annual Meeting, and the NABE Policy Conference. She also served in 2013 – 2014 on the Board of the Council for Economic Education, a leading organization supporting K – 12 economic and financial literacy education. During 2005 – 2008, Ellen was on the Board of Directors, and also served a one-year term as Board Chair, of Operation ABLE, a nonprofit organization in Detroit which helps workers get needed skills training and job placements. Dr. Hughes-Cromwick received her Bachelor's degree in Government and French from the University of Notre Dame. She earned a Master's degree in International Development and a Ph.D. in Economics from Clark University in Massachusetts.


Regional Forecaster: Kathy Deck

Kathy Deck

Kathy Deck is director of the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Walton College at the University of Arkansas. Her research interests include local economic development, industry market structure and education and health care economics.

In providing applied economic research as part of the outreach mission of the center, Deck has managed studies for a wide variety of business, non-profit and governmental organizations in the state of Arkansas. Deck also acts as a media resource for economic analysis of current events and trends.

Deck earned a B.A. in economics from the College of William and Mary and an M.S. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before joining the Center for Business and Economic Research, Deck was the antitrust economist for the Arizona attorney general.


Thank you to our 2017 Business Forecast Luncheon Sponsors!


Walton Presenting Partner

Walmart/Sam's Club


Walton Academic Partners

Center for Retailing Excellence

Greenwood Gearhart Inc.


Walton Corporate Partners

Frost, PLLC

McKee Foods

Reece Moore Pendergraft, Attorneys

Smith Hurst, PLC


Walton Business Partners


Cox Communications

HoganTaylor LLP

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.

Hyatt Place Hotel

Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC

Regions Bank

Regions Insurance

Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP


Walton Media Partners

Celebrate Arkansas

Talk Business & Politics/Northwest Arkansas Business Journal



Sponsorship opportunities include:

  • Walton Presenting Partner
    $10,000 includes two tables of ten with Level I priority seating and two tables for students
  • Walton Academic Partner
    $5,000 includes one table of ten with Level I priority seating and one table for students
  • Walton Corporate Partner
    $3,000 includes one table of ten with Level II priority seating
  • Walton Business Partner
    $2,000 includes one table of ten with Level III priority seating

For more information contact

Center for Business and Economic Research
Sam M. Walton College of Business
1 University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
PH: (479) 575-4151




Forecast Speaker Archive

Business Forecast 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015
John Q. Hammons Convention Center
World Trade Center District - Rogers, Arkansas 

  • Moderator: John James, Founder, Acumen Brands
  • International Speaker: Carl Tannenbaum, Chief Economist, Northern Trust
  • Domestic Speaker: John Silvia, Managing Director & Chief Economist, Wells Fargo
  • Regional Speaker: Kathy Deck, Director, Center for Business and Economic Research

Business Forecast 2016

Friday, January 29
John Q. Hammons Convention Center
World Trade Center District - Rogers, Arkansas 

  • Moderator: Bill Dillard, VP, Dillards Inc.
  • Global Forecaster: Michael Drury, Chief Economist, McVean Trading & Investments, LLC
  • Domestic Forecaster: Kevin Kliesen, Business Economist and Bank Officer, Research Division, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • Regional Forecaster: Kathy Deck, Director, Center for Business and Economic Research