Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Unemployment, job fair attendance indicate positive signs

Workforce recruitment, retention and outreach are some of the most important topics for staff at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber conducts two job fairs annually, typically in May and October, which attract between 50 - 120 hiring companies and anywhere from 1,500 to 3,200 job seekers depending upon current economic conditions. However, as we indicated in press coverage of our most recent event on October 12, we believe there are some positive signs of recovery for job seekers:

Job Fair Turnout Shows Improving Economy (40/29 News)

Job Fair Offers Positions, Training (40/29 News)

Job Fair Attracts Unemployed, Those Seeking Better Pay (The Morning News)

Economic indicators continue to improve. At the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, our economic development inquiries have been steady or up over 2008 every single month year to date (January - September 2009). This includes new business inquiries, economic development prospects, individuals looking to open franchises, small businesses and home-based businesses.

Northwest Arkansas remains an outstanding and desirable place to go into business as well as to live, play and raise a family. We're pleased to see progress in historic downtown Rogers as well - downtown Rogers merchants are banding together better than we've ever seen, and there is a new attitude of optimism in downtown Rogers spurred by efforts from Main Street Rogers (Mocha on Main Street, the new butterfly and hummingbird park on First Street, downtown intersection improvements), as well as efforts by merchants (third Friday Twilight Walks are thriving).

We're serving more diverse business inquiries than ever, and our diversity program continues to gain momentum. Most recent U.S. Census Bureau numbers still place Rogers at approximately 31% Hispanic or Latino, and we are assisting many of these individuals with start-up businesses (most popular: restaurants, auto detail and repair, child care, salons) as well as translation, outreach and referral services.

As you may recall, in June 2009 Forbes magazine ranked the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers MSA (metropolitan statistical area) at #2 on its list of the best places in the nation for recession recovery ( We couldn't agree more, although we think Northwest Arkansas is a fantastic place even without talk of recessions!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Exciting times for NWA Emerging Leaders

Just in case you haven't heard some of the buzz about Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders (previous post:, this is a great time to learn more and get involved, or encourage an outstanding member of your team to do so!

Conceived as a vehicle for engaging some of the fantastic emerging talent attracted to Northwest Arkansas by the world-class companies in our backyards, NWA Emerging Leaders has quickly become a source of positive action for communities up and down Interstate 540. As a case in point, revisit the post regarding the outstanding efforts by the NWAEL Sustainability Workgroup during the P&G Beauty NWA LPGA Championship in September:

The next NWAEL quarterly program will be on October 28 from 11:30 to 1:00 at the Center for Nonprofits at St. Mary's in Rogers. The program will feature Legacy speaker Betsy Reithemeyer as well as Carla Sloan, who will speak about balance and finding your passion. Seating is limited - register and find additional information at:

A great deal of information is available at, including links to join NWA Emerging Leaders and to connect with the group via social media venues such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Motivated employees can print an information sheet for their boss to help convince them of the worthwhile nature of the program. On that note, however, the NWAEL program seeks to impose very little on the individual's work day by limiting programs to quarterly gatherings over the lunch hour. A great deal of the substance of NWA Emerging Leaders comes through the workgroups. A list, including contact information and mission statements, is also available at

Send the link to an aspiring young man or woman you may know in Northwest Arkansas. If they exude ideas, promise, commitment, passion and a desire to serve and to lead, they are probably a perfect fit for Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders. And if that sounds like you... hopefully you've just joined!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Attract customers and operate your business more sustainably!

As previously mentioned in our post regarding the August launch of the Green Plus program (, there are tremendous opportunities available to businesses who understand and pursue sustainable practices.

We're delighted to announce that Brick Street Botanical ( in Historic Downtown Rogers, a member of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce since opening their doors last October, is the very first Green Plus certified business in the state of Arkansas!

National Public Radio (KUAF 91.3) reporter Jacqueline Froelich compiled a great story on Ozarks at Large recently regarding the Green Plus program featuring Holly Mang, owner of Brick Street Botanical. You can listen to the story here: and access photos at

Currently, more than two dozen member businesses of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce are pursuing or considering Green Plus certification. Members of the chamber receive a substantial ($200) discount on the program.

Two upcoming information sessions will help interested businesses learn more, ask questions and enroll. Plan now to attend on either Thursday, October 29 from 11:00 to noon (register here: or Tuesday, November 3 from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. (register here: or in the AT&T Conference Room at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

For additional information, contact Beth Stephens (479-619-3192 or

Monday, October 19, 2009

Working for Northwest Arkansas in Washington D.C.

While most of us were tending to day to day tasks in Northwest Arkansas this October, a dedicated group representing our community visited Washington D.C. to advocate a number of issues on our behalf.

Mayors and chamber of commerce leaders representing the five largest cities in Northwest Arkansas - Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale - visited the nation's Capitol to oppose stricter phosphorus levels as well as ongoing transportation needs.

The group met with Congressional leaders (Senators Pryor, Lincoln and four Congressmen) regarding regional infrastructure issues as well as the Federal Highway Administration and representatives from the Secretary of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Martine Downs Pollard, senior vice president of government affairs for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, posted updates on the trip via Twitter:

- Boarding flight to DC for NWA Regional Leaders Fly-In, meetings scheduled w Congressional leaders, EPA & FHWA from mobile web

- Great business dinner at B Smiths @ Union Station, DC One last briefing for tomorrow's mtgs It's going to be a fast and furious day tmrw! from web

- Just wrapped up meeting with NWA mayors and chambers execs with reps from Fed Highway and Sec. of Trans. in DC from mobile web

- Finished Arkansas Cong Luncheon with Cong Boozman, Cong Ross & Cong Berry and staff in Cannon off to meet with EPA staff from mobile web

- What a productive day in DC. Good mtgs & reception from EPA, FHWA & OMB. I'm cautiously optmstc @ our asks. Even saw Obamas mtrcde up close from mobile web

Additional press coverage on the NWA Mayors & Chamber Execs trip to DC:

To keep up with government affairs activities in real-time, follow Martine: or learn more and contact her directly regarding monthly government affairs committee meetings, legislative and candidate forums, efforts by NWA Emerging Leaders related to political and government affairs or to subscribe to email updates.

More information and contact information:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why should you care about Drug Free Rogers-Lowell?

October is Meth Awareness & Prevention Month. While it is easy to disregard this as another sensationalist themed month that doesn't affect you directly, it's also an excellent opportunity to learn a little more about the effects of meth on our community.

At the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, we're fortunate to have some experts in that field. While it is uncommon for chambers of commerce to acknowledge, much less work to prevent, social issues such as methamphetamine use, underage drinking and smoking or unhealthy lifestyles, our team is proud of the outstanding preventive efforts of the Drug Free Rogers-Lowell team here at the chamber. Most impressive to us is that our DFRL team and coalition members will present information on meth awareness and prevention in every sixth grade and higher classroom in Benton County this month. Talk about impact!

Drug Free Rogers-Lowell (DFRL) was formed in 1998 by the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce as a drug-free workplace task force. This task force's mission was to advocate for legislation allowing drug testing in Arkansas workplaces, and incentives to be provided to businesses implementing drug-free policies. Due to the efforts of Drug Free Rogers-Lowell, this legislation was passed, and DFRL continues to promote the Drug Free Workplace Program. DFRL initiatives, partnerships and programs promote the economic, social, environmental and individual health of Rogers and Lowell for sustainable development.

Most importantly, these are not just "warm fuzzy" lifestyle issues - they are business issues. Rising healthcare costs, employee absenteeism, lack of performance and safety issues affect the bottom line and success of businesses every single day.

You can learn quite a bit by visiting the website of the Drug Free Rogers-Lowell team: Here are a few action items for you:

1. Check out the video created for the 6th Annual Meth Prevention & Awareness Month at If you're a parent, watch it with your teens and preteens, and share it with others. The more awareness built in the community on this topic, the better.

2. Take just a moment to take the DFRL Underage Drinking & Social Hosting Survey: And, if you're so inclined, mention a link to the survey via any social media you may use (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) to help provide survey participation and feedback.

3. Learn more about meth - what is it, who's trying it and how to stop it - at

4. Learn more about other issues affecting our community: underage drinking, tobacco, prescription medication abuse and illegal drugs - all at

Don't take the obvious path of assuming these issues do not affect you, your family, your children, your colleagues and your neighbors. Take a moment to learn more. We're confident you'll be as impressed as we are by the efforts of the Drug Free Rogers-Lowell team.