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Ross DeVol, President & CEO, Heartland Forward

Ross DeVol was brought to Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2017, to establish Heartland Forward which is now recognized as a policy “think” and “do” tank focused on improving the economic performance of the 20 states in the middle of the country. It is a 501c3, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and programs focused on four key pillars ultimately aiming to improve the quality of life for people of the heartland. The four pillars are innovation and entrepreneurship, human capital and workforce development, health and wellness and regional competitiveness.

Heartland Forward’s goal is to promote regional innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems fostering job creation, wage gains, health and wellbeing and economic growth for the American Heartland.
Heartland Forward pursues its mission through independent, data-driven research, action-oriented convenings, such as the Heartland Summit, and impactful policy recommendations and programs such as Connecting the Heartland and the Community Growth Program and Toolkit. Heartland Forward works with universities, colleges, the business community, economic development officials, public policy leaders and philanthropy to analyze resources supporting the startup community and identify workforce and talent gaps.

DeVol has raised the profile of Heartland Forward through media engagement with quotes in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Economist and Axios and op-eds in the Dallas Morning News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Des Moines Register as well as TV appearances on Bloomberg and throughout the heartland. Heartland Forward research on the economic savings attributable to rapid vaccine development and deployment was cited by Pfizer in their quarter earnings call and Intel’s CEO announced their Ohio investment in two new chips plants at the White House as the “Silicon Heartland,” based, in part, on the organization’s research on reshoring manufacturing in the heartland.

DeVol is former chief research officer for the Milken Institute where he spent nearly 20 years, an economic think tank headquartered in California. He oversaw research on international, national and
comparative regional growth performance; access to capital and its role in economic growth and job creation; and health-related topics. He has been ranked among the “Superstars of Think Tank Scholars” by International Economy magazine