“There’s a running joke that I sleep with my Arvest name tag on my pajamas,” says Jim Cargill, president and CEO of Arvest Bank in Central, Northeast and Southwest Arkansas. “That might be true! I am excited to get to work early every day because I know so many opportunities await me there.”
Jim’s enthusiasm for improving communities and customer relationships is in the foreground of every decision he makes and, with Jim at the helm, Arvest is proving itself to be an agent of change in the communities it serves.
“For example, we are very passionate about reducing food insecurities,” explains Jim. “We support organizations such as food banks, pantries, and backpack programs for school children. For 10 years, Arvest’s annual two-month Million Meals campaign has collected and donated a total of 17,068,971 meals to food partners in our four-state footprint.”
Arvest also supports the arts, children and educational endeavors, and chamber of commerce initiatives that drive economic development. A natural fit for the bank was the Academies of Central Arkansas.
“This is a project spearheaded by the Little Rock Regional Chamber that brings together the Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville, and Pulaski County Special School Districts to transform high schools and prepare all students to be both college and career ready upon graduation,” Jim says. “The Academies was created in consultation with Ford Next Generation Learning, a nationally successful model which gives freshmen students exposure to various career fields.”
Arvest funded the purchase of freshman seminar curriculum for the districts along with professional development for educators which was delivered this past summer in anticipation of the freshman academies which launched this fall. Arvest employees will also serve as mentors to students.
“The Academies of Central Arkansas is an important project to me personally. I was educated in a small Southwest Arkansas town and my wife was an educator in public schools for more than 25 years, so we understand the challenges students and school districts face,” Jim shares. “We as business leaders and as a community need to work to ensure every single child has the opportunity to pursue their dreams and be successful. It is critical that we provide children exposure to career options sooner in their journey, and then mentor them along their personal path, which may take the student to higher education or learning a trade.”
“The leaders of nonprofit organizations accomplish so much for the people in Central Arkansas and across our state. As a supporter, board member, and a businessman, I want to help fuel success for families, children, entrepreneurs, and others,” says Jim. “When your community is strong and supportive, it makes you proud of where you live, and you can’t help but want to be a part of that success and the transformation of people’s lives.”