Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sam's Club CEO to Highlight 2009 Annual Banquet

Save the date for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. This annual gathering of 800 - 1,000 Northwest Arkansas business leaders celebrates accomplishments of the previous year, honors outstanding businesses and individuals in our community and sets the tone for the coming business year.

The Chamber’s annual banquet is the largest such gathering of business leaders in Northwest Arkansas. A long list of distinguished previous speakers includes Lee Scott, Arkansas Governors Clinton, Tucker and Huckabee, Senators Bumpers, Pryor (Sr. and Jr.), Boozman, Hammerschmidt, both Hutchinson brothers, Ara Parsigian, Tommy Lasorda, Rogers Penske, Mean Joe Green and NFL Ref. Buddy Coleman. Commentary and introduction of Steven S. Little, former Inc. magazine consultant and small business expert by Greg Spragg, J.B. Hunt and Dick Bond of Tyson Foods.

Brian Cornell, CEO of Sam's Club, will serve as keynote speaker for the 2009 Annual Banquet, reflecting the aligned focus of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and Sam's Club as premier membership organizations focused on the wellbeing of small to medium businesses in Northwest Arkansas and beyond.

As the premier regional business event of the year, the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet celebrates regional accomplishments, recognizes leadership and serves as an excellent platform for the business community. The evening also features current Chairman of the Board Wayne Callahan of H.J. Heinz, who has led the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce throughout 2009.

The annual banquet on February 11, 2010 begins with an evening reception at 6:00 p.m. followed by dinner featuring the keynote speaker and annual awards at 7:00 p.m. Stay tuned for details at www.RogersLowell.com and mark your calendar to attend - you won't want to miss this outstanding gathering of Northwest Arkansas business leaders.

A limited number of event sponsorships are available to Chamber businesses wishing to participate in this prestigious event. Contact Shelle Summers at 479-619-3187 or ssummers@rogerslowell.com for details.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Economic Development Behind the Scenes

Economic development is a vague concept for the general public, at best.

Better defined as business development, or the dynamic process of recruiting new businesses and assisting to existing businesses, it begins to make sense. Try this on for size: economic development equals new businesses, new customers and new residents which actively contribute to our community's quality of life, i.e. all the things that make Northwest Arkansas a fantastic place to live, work and play.

Economic development is one of the most effective things we can do for the community as a chamber of commerce, and yet it is often the least understood and definitely the most poorly communicated. That's because we can't always say what we're doing when we're doing it.

So, in the spirit of transparency as best we can offer it, this recent information we've shared with our executive committee of the board of directors might be of interest:

Economic Development Report (YTD Aug. 2009)

Small Business Outreach

- Assisted 46 businesses.
- Most inquiries related to business licensing, permitting, how to structure a business.
- Many referrals to experts in the field, i.e. SCORE, the Small Business Administration, SBTDC.
- Economic environment has led many to take the leap to start a business after years of considering it.
- Types of inquires range from handyman services, restaurants and auto repair/detail (most popular) to training/consulting, franchises and child care operations.

Workforce Recruitment/Retention

- Served 100+ job seekers.
- Assistance includes resume review/updating, referrals to job banks and career resources and orientation to job seeking tools such as LinkedIn.
- Materials (magazines, DVDs, maps) and resources (community tours) offered to area employers to assist in efforts to attract and retain the best and brightest for Northwest Arkansas.

Minority Business Outreach

- Served 30 start-up inquiries and 143 job seekers.
- Supported 133 individuals with permits, forms, licensing, health department compliance and translation.
- Assisted 18 individuals with MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) Certification.
- Provided Spanish and English language courses to 60 individuals.

Business Recruitment/Expansion

- Responded to 75 inquiries from prospective/existing companies.
- Many inquiries are related to data and demographics, but an average of 3 - 5 inquiries a month seeking the opportunity to locate or expand in our community.
- Efforts continue in downtown Rogers, with assistance provided to companies such as Enformix (www.enformix.com) and Rolando's restaurant (www.rolandosrestaurante.com) with their new downtown locations.

It may not be the most exciting thing we do in terms of the attention span of the general public, but it is one of the most important and valuable things we do every day toward our goal of growing business, building community.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Leading by Example

Young northwest Arkansas business leaders literally got their hands dirty last week during the P&G Beauty LPGA Championship on September 7 – 13 in Rogers.

Members of the Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders (www.NWALead.com) sustainability workgroup made a sizable dent in waste generated by thousands of spectators, players, media and fans.

Under the exceptional management of workgroup leader Paul Wilson of Intrust Bank (www.IntrustBank.com), NWAEL partnered with Octagon Management (www.Octagon.com) and the new City of Rogers Recycling Center (http://www.rogersarkansas.com/trach/recycle.asp#Recycling) to gather, sort and haul literal tons of recyclable waste from the event, which would otherwise have been bound for dumpsters and ultimately, landfills.

Group members made a noticeable impact on event attendees - dozens of Northwest Arkansas business leaders digging in trash to sort recyclables and often dumpster diving to retrieve recyclable waste certainly attracted some attention!

Volunteers in addition to Paul Wilson icluded Scott Van Asche, Michael Lindsey, Julianna Arthur, Melissa and Joel Taylor, Clay Kendall, Matthew Carter, Jennifer Harris, Al Drinkwater, Martine Downs Pollard, Jene' Huffman, Ryan Kopp, Clint Hopper, Diana Sparks, Jordan Difani, Andrew Motter, Keaton SMith, Todd Novotny, Kinya Elenbarger, Denise Thomas, Sabrina Rampey, Mandy Jane, Jonathan Mwaba, Sarah Beardsley, David Stay, Beth Stephens, Jared Carmichael and Dwight and Dallas Heasley along with their troop of four hardworking boys!

Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders is envisioned as a substantive program for dedicated professionals who seek to be actively involved in the NWA community. NWAEL is an initiative of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and consists of informative programs (quarterly) as well as active workgroups formed to collectively tackle community issues and projects. The mission of NWAEL is to retain emerging leaders and build a lasting legacy in Northwest Arkansas by providing the resources to infuse new talent with existing leadership.

For more information or to join, visit www.NWALead.com.