Type to search

Top Hat:

Business Fashion Featured

Top Hat:



New Little Rock attorney, businessman, nonprofit executive, community volunteer and serial entrepreneur Scott Hamilton is a man of many hats. 

After graduating from Little Rock’s Hall High School and Hendrix College in Conway, Hamilton received his law degree from the University of Missouri and an MBA from Rockhurst College, also in Kansas City, Mo. Like many rising Black Arkansas professionals, Hamilton left the Natural State to chase his career dreams before returning as a seasoned energy and public policy expert more than a decade ago. 

Hamilton returned to Arkansas to help care for his mother, Wanda, and said he has been happy with his choice ever since. Having worked for several energy firms in Kansas City, Detroit, Houston and Atlanta upon his return to Arkansas, former Gov. Mike Beebe appointed Hamilton director of the state Department of Economic Development’s Energy Office in 2011. 

As the state’s chief energy expert, the Little Rock native was tasked with developing the Democratic governor’s State Energy Plan, putting more than 20 years of experience in the energy industry that began with a fresh-out-of-college job at Arkla Gas, the predecessor to Summit Utilities.

 “I started off with a gas company, went to an electric company, and back to gas, and then got involved with water systems. It was all energy,” recalled Hamilton. 

Hamilton joined the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) as an external affairs director; MISO is the nation’s second-largest electric grid operator, opening a $20 million state-of-the-art command center in Little Rock. Leaving MISO in 2019, Hamilton led Schneider Electric’s foray into the state’s now booming renewable energy sector. 

But the Arkansan’s career has come full circle after being asked to take the reins as interim director at the Urban League of Arkansas. Today, as the president and CEO of the organization, he said he is honored to be once again working with his longtime friend and mentor Sherman Tate, an Arkansas Business Hall of Fame member and a former top executive at Arkla Gas who helped Hamilton get his start in the energy sector many years ago. Tate is now the board chairman of the Urban League. 

“When (Sherman) asked me to come over and help at the Urban League, I couldn’t say no,” he joked. “There is no better friend for me to learn from. I talk with Mr. Tate almost daily because he is so knowledgeable.”

 Like Tate, Hamilton himself has also emerged as a “white hat” problem solver in Little Rock who can get things done professionally and as a hands-on community-minded volunteer. He readily admits that he’s not the right person to call if you want a quick fix. 

“I am the type of person who looks at challenges as opportunities,” Hamilton said. “I like process and pathways. I develop a system and a path toward (resolution) and then get out of the way.” 

He offered this anecdote to explain further: “I am the one that if we are out in the jungle, I have the hatchet cutting the trees down, looking for the bears and the dangers and trying to eradicate them, and then people come along.” 

Hamilton has definitely held onto that philosophy successfully guiding the historic civil rights organization through the 2020 presidential election, the COVID19 pandemic, and the George Floyd murder in the first half of 2021. 

During that tumultuous period, Hamilton said the Arkansas-based Urban League affiliate has returned to its roots as a state and national leader of voter education and civil engagement. Hamilton said the next step is positioning the statewide civil rights group for the long game. 

“We are not trying to be everything to everybody,” he said. “Just as we have always done in Arkansas and across the nation, we are trying to access opportunity through advocacy, community, partnerships, programs, and services. When we see barriers and issues out there, I want to expose them and figure out the pathway to resolve them.” 

For example, the nonprofit’s Food Insecurity Project has taken federal COVID-19 funding to provide meals and boxed foods to 45 communities across Arkansas. In addition, the organization’s Defining Arkansas Values program partnered with KATV 7, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas and other local groups to inform constituents about key bills under consideration in the General Assembly through community town halls held online. 

“We were able to tap into Zoom and social media early on to connect with constituents locally,” he said. Hamilton also notes the launch of Urban League’s Boys and Men Opportunity Success Team (BMOST), a signature initiative that coordinates several after-school programs to mentor and bring job opportunities for youth statewide.

 And that’s not a surprise. Hamilton’s parents were prominent Black educators, community activists, and Urban League members during the city’s civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s. His late father, William D. Hamilton, was the namesake of the Little Rock School District’s Hamilton Learning Academy. The elder Hamilton was also a math teacher, local school board member, entrepreneur and state administrator who served under former Govs. Winthrop Rockefeller and Dale Bumpers.

 His mother, as mentioned earlier, was among the first Blacks to help integrate UA Little Rock, known in 1964 as Little Rock University. Hamilton credits both parents for igniting his entrepreneurial spirit.

“Since I was a teenager, I have always sought ways to create revenue from my efforts through operating various small businesses,” he said. 

Today, Hamilton owns Station 801, a food truck hub and event center on Chester Street in downtown Little Rock that opened in 2016. The local entrepreneur also operates a local used car dealership, a passion that began as a child when helping his father rebuild hot rods in the family garage. 

“My father taught me there is a process for getting an old vehicle back running, and that has been beneficial to me throughout school and life. You can’t skip certain steps and processes,” he said. “I can tear down a 360 Chevy motor and put it back together in two or three hours. But you can’t do it out of order.” 

And just as his parents were a powerful and complementary pair, Hamilton and his wife, Martie North, have been tabbed by a local news publication as one of Little Rock’s most “dynamic duos.” North, a longtime banking executive, oversees community outreach and engagement for emerging markets at Cadence Bank, the fast-growing regional bank with over $44 billion in assets. She was hired by the nation’s 51st-largest bank after the $6 billion merger of the former BancorpSouth in Tupelo, Miss., and Cadence Bancorp of Houston in April 2021. 

North is also a member of the Community Development Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which advises the influential St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on community development issues. As head of the Fed’s expansive Eighth District, Bullard sits on the influential Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets the nation’s monetary policy and federal interest rates. 

North is also a board member of several other local charities, including AChange, Friends of Mosaic Templars, Arkansas Advocates, and University District Development Corp. Hamilton said he married his “best friend” in 2015, and together, they are committed to influencing change locally, through their professional and personal lives, something his parents taught. 

Often asked if he plans to enter the political spectrum or run for public office, Hamilton said he prefers to be a behind-the-scenes influencer who helps others reach their potential. 

“What is next for me is a continuation of looking for challenges. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, I see the same thing – trying to create opportunities that are unique. I want to ensure that all people have at least an opportunity at all this country promises us,” he said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *