Grant Tennille - Executive Director
Grant Tennille, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, serves as the Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. A native of Florida, Tennille graduated in 1992 from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, before moving to Arkansas in 1992 to work as a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He later worked as a communications assistant in the Arkansas Governor's Office and at the Game and Fish Commission from 1996 to 1998.
In 1998 he worked for The Thompson Group, a telecommunications consulting firm, as manager of its Denver, Colorado, office before joining Qwest Communications International Inc. in 2001 as Senior Director of Public Policy Planning and Advocacy. In 2004, Tennille was named vice president of a start-up company, The Distribution Point in Birmingham, Alabama. He returned to Arkansas to join the office of Governor Mike Beebe.
In his career, he has provided business and strategic counsel to companies of all sizes - from Fortune 500 corporations to small start-ups. He is married to Rebecca Tennille, a public-relations executive. They have three children.
Becky Thompson – Deputy Director, Global Business
Becky Thompson was named Deputy Director of Global Business for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in February 2007.
Thompson has more than 13 years of economic development experience. From 1993 to 1998, she worked with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, both as a community development consultant and as project manager for recruiting business and industry.
While serving as Vice President of Economic Development for the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Thompson was responsible for coordinating marketing efforts and programs to recruit and expand business and industry in the Greater Hattiesburg Area.
Most recently, Thompson served as Director of Global Business for the Mississippi Development Authority in Jackson, Mississippi. Her responsibilities included oversight of recruiting domestic and international companies to Mississippi and providing trade assistance to Mississippi companies.
Thompson is a graduate of Nashville High School and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She is also a 2006 graduate of the Economic Development Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In 2006, Thompson was named one of Mississippi's 50 Leading Business Women by the Mississippi Business Journal. She is a current member of the Southern Economic Development Council.
Mike Gaines – Deputy Director, Finance & Administration
Mike Gaines serves as Deputy Director for Administration and Finance.
For five years, beginning in 2003, Gaines was Vice President and Counsel of James Lee Witt Associates - in Washington, D.C. for three years and later in the firm's Little Rock offices.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Gaines to the U.S. Parole Commission, an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice. Designated Chairman by the President in 1997, he led and managed the agency, with day-to-day oversight of a staff of approximately 85 employees; oversaw the development of the agency's annual budgets; led the agency and its staff through major expansion and transition; and worked closely with Senate and House members, committees, and staff on budget and other issues relevant to the agency. While in Washington, Mike also served as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
His career began with service on the Governor's Security details of Governors Dale Bumpers and David Pryor. In 1983, he joined Governor Bill Clinton's staff as the Governor's liaison to various state agencies, assisting with policy development and drafting of legislation, and worked closely with committees and individual members of the Arkansas General Assembly in advancing the Governor's legislative initiatives.
Gaines later served as the first full-time Chairman of the Arkansas Parole Board and as Executive Director of the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct, managing the office responsible for the investigation of allegations of unethical conduct by attorneys licensed to practice in Arkansas.
Gaines received his JD degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law and was admitted to the Bar in 1977.