Arkansas Trucking Association

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Up Front- Champs

DSCF7709 smallShannon Newton
President, ATA

Each year, one team raises their league’s distinct trophy, cup or bowl in the air in celebration of a year’s worth of hard work, dedication, success, and likely a little bit of luck. Champions secure their place in history, forever to be remembered for the collective effort to be the best.

The images remembered and stories re-told are often those final moments or decisive series of events.

Yet, if you’ve ever been so fortunate to be part of a championship team, you know there are many more less picturesque moments that contributed to the success. Often times there were years’ worth of preparation, conditioning and disappointment. But when the right team was assembled, aligned with opportunity and a little bit of good fortune, history was made.

Over the last 20 years, the cost of paving highways and filling potholes outpaced the money raised at the pump. So for more than a decade, ATA has been working on a long-term highway funding solution. Working groups have studied. Recommendations have been made. Bills have been drafted. Coalitions formed. Constituents educated. But for any number of reasons, victory eluded us. The makeup of the legislature, the priorities of the Governor, economic conditions and stakeholder alignment (or lack thereof) all played a role.

When Gov. Hutchinson ran for re-election last fall, the public’s frustration with the state of Arkansas’s infrastructure and the business community’s persistence for a solution was unavoidable. Highway funding emerged on his list of campaign issues. It was like winning a pre-season game… promising.

Fast forward through the months of preparation, policy formulation and stakeholder group meetings to when last month, in the middle of an ongoing and incredibly active legislative session, Governor Hutchinson stood in front of the press core in a standing room only crowd of legislators, citizens, lobbyists, and business interests and unveiled his $300 million highway plan.

It was a big win. Legislative leadership from both the state Senate and House of Representatives joined the Governor in support of this substantial, sustainable, long-term plan.

Four weeks later, the season for the highway funding stakeholders is coming to an end. And the win is indeed historic. One that I am so proud to be a part of, a decade in the making. That session when we grabbed that strand of opportunity and didn’t let go until our infrastructure was safe, modern and worthy of all the lives we trust with it every day.

The Governor; the Speaker of the House, Mathew Shepherd; Senate Pro Temp, Jim Hendren; and lawmakers from all across Arkansas, agreed that the time is right to be courageous and take responsibility for solving our funding shortfalls. Finally, all the right people were in the right place, and we were ready to work together.

The Governor has announced a bill signing ceremony, where we will lift our proverbial trophy over our heads and celebrate all of our efforts to achieve this milestone.

I can confirm that that dopamine feeling is multiplied when someone challenges our rightness, and the data backs it up.

However research is about much more than making us feel good.  It’s about asking smart questions and letting the answers guide us to informed destinations, even if those are uncomfortable.  Research includes challenging ideas, exploring myths, and even curiously navigating new areas of interest. 

I recently accepted a role on the American Transportation Research Institute’s Research Advisory Committee. Part of our responsibilities will be to develop and prioritize research proposals that address the trucking industry’s top challenges.

We all agree that the industry is facing no shortage of challenges, coupled with a technology revolution potentially impacting every aspect of our business.

Making the world and our industry better than it is today will require open minds, not rigid ones. We will have to be flexible and change our minds when our beliefs aren’t supported by the research. And that is okay.

Our association relies on ATRI’s research to shape our priorities and expend our resources.  It helps us to convey the size and scope of the trucking industry and inform policy makers about the issues facing our members.

So it is an honor to be part of the team that will now ask the questions and pursue the answers—even if those answers conflict with existing assumptions. Being right may feel good, but if we’re wrong, chocolate and exercise can do that too.

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Suite 185
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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