LITTLE ROCK — Secretary Mike Preston of the Arkansas Department of Commerce announced the appointments of new officials within the Department effective July 1.

“The Department of Commerce is bringing together outstanding professionals, resources and programs from 10 different state agencies as we launch a new era of efficiency, responsiveness and service to the people of Arkansas,” Preston said. “It is essential, therefore, that we have effective leaders in place to successfully guide our 1,500 employees through this transformation process.”

Betty Anderson will be the chief of staff for the Department of Commerce. She most recently was director of organizational efficiencies at Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and has more than four decades of experience in state government, ranging from human resources to grants management, training and business process design.

Steven Porch has been named chief legal counsel for the department. He has served in various capacities of state government and was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson as Circuit Judge of the 10th Judicial District, Fourth Division for 2017-18. He was formerly a prosecutor in Monticello and managing attorney for the 10th Judicial District Office of the Public Defender.

Alisha Curtis, most recently executive assistant to Gov. Hutchinson and special projects director and liaison to AEDC, will be chief communications and legislative director for Commerce. She has experience prior to state government in banking and fundraising, along with many volunteer civic projects and programs she’s led and been part of in the last five years.

Courtney Traylor will be chief financial officer. She has served as assistant deputy insurance commissioner for the state since 2015 and facilitated a culture change in the Insurance Department accounting division that embraced knowledge sharing and training opportunities, and focused on improvements and efficiencies.

Nathan Smith, Ph.D., joins the Department of Commerce as director of research. He moves over from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) where he has worked as the director for the division of economic policy. He is an economic analyst with expertise in tax policy, workforce development, data governance and analytics, international development and the economics of technological change.

Melissa Adams will be executive assistant to the Secretary of Commerce. She has many years of experience in state government, as an administrative and executive assistant. She has most recently served as liaison to the Arkansas Economic Development Council board members while maintaining all minutes and records for the council, and has managed agency, assets, procurement and human resources activities, special projects and travel for executive staff.

“This leadership team was assembled without creating new positions and is in accordance with the efficiencies Gov. Hutchinson desires to achieve as he transforms state government,” said Preston.

The governor said he believes the Department of Commerce is well-positioned to guide the state’s comprehensive economic growth strategy for years to come.

“I look forward to working with this impressive group, along with our strong local partners around the state, to further strengthen Arkansas’ already robust economy,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

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