Mark Simmons, chairman of Simmons Foods, has taken leadership of the Northwest Arkansas Council as its next presiding co-chair. Simmons, a resident of Siloam Springs, Ark., was a founding member of the Northwest Arkansas Council as he worked closely with Sam Walton, Alice Walton, Don Tyson, John Tyson and J.B. Hunt in the establishment of the organization in 1990.

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Simmons at the organization's annual meeting announced that the Northwest Arkansas Council would work with partners to evaluate progress on the Greater Northwest Arkansas Development Strategy. The strategy is a five-year plan, unveiled in January 2011. The plan addresses such things as embracing the region's increasingly diverse population, improving schools and highways, developing a regional wayfinding system, increasing access to physical activity and healthy food, developing young leaders, ensuring that existing businesses are finding success, attracting the talent companies need to be successful, and marketing Northwest Arkansas to companies considering relocation and expansion.