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Welcome to our Chamber Connection Newsletter!
In an effort to connect our Chamber Members to valuable news, information, and resources each month we will feature a spotlight topic to better connect our community. This month's topics are workforce and economic development efforts and successes. Next month's topic will feature Membership, if you are interested in sharing your news or upcoming events in next month's Chamber Connection, please email to learn more.
May | 2022 | Workforce and Economic Development
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Arvest Bank Among “World’s Best” for Fourth Year in a Row
Arvest Bank has once again been recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the “World’s Best Banks.” This is the fourth year in a row Arvest has received this distinction, which is based on customer feedback. 

Arvest ranks 20th among U.S. banks, the third year in a row it has been part of the top 20. The full list and an accompanying article can be found on the Forbes website.
“To be honored by those we serve at a time when we are driving transformational change as it relates to both the customer experience and digital services is remarkable,” Arvest president and CEO Kevin Sabin said. “We know our customers’ needs and expectations are changing rapidly and we are committed to meeting them. We are equally committed to maintaining excellence in customer service even as we grow and change, and our associates deserve credit for delivering on that promise every day.”
Forbes produced its “World’s Best Banks” list in collaboration with Statista, its market research partner. The list is based on an independent survey from a sample of more than 45,000 bank customers representing 27 countries.
All financial institutions – brick-and-mortar and online-only – offering a checking and/or savings account were considered. Those surveyed had to name and rate every bank at which they have – or have had – a checking or savings account on overall recommendation and satisfaction. Additionally, participants rated those institutions on five criteria: trust, terms & conditions, customer services, digital services and financial advice.
This honor is the second Arvest has received from Forbes in 2022, following recognition as part of its “Best Employers 2022” list in February. Arvest also appeared on the “America’s Best Large Employers” list in 2017 and 2018 and the “America’s Best Employers for Women” list in 2018.
The Chamber's 4th Annual Signing Day Event
The Fort Smith Chamber's May First Friday Breakfast included the 4th annual Signing Day. The ceremony during the event featured 17 companies honoring 70 new hires. Additional to those companies and students featured during the breakfast, many other companies and students participated throughout the process. This event featured area high school students taking apprenticeships, internships, and full-time careers. Area post-secondary students and recent college graduates also celebrated their career placements and internships. It was a wonderful tribute to the education systems producing qualified talent for our workforce pipeline and the excellent career opportunities available with Fort Smith businesses.
Fort Smith Chamber Held Its 2022 Business EXPO & Career Fair
The Fort Smith Chamber's 2022 Business EXPO & Career Fair was held on Friday, May 6, 2022, at the Fort Smith Convention Center. The event was a great day featuring business-to-business networking, product demonstrations, and career connections. This year 105 vendors participated with hundreds of additional attendees coming through the EXPO during the day.
Announcing the New Junior Leadership & Career Academy Class VII
Congratulations to the 37 students that have been selected to participate in the Junior Leadership & Career Academy (JLCA) Program from July 2022 to March 2023! These students will participate in the JLCA program during their upcoming freshmen year of high school. They represent Greenwood High School, Northside High School, Southside High School, and Union Christian Academy.
Ty Adair
Nancy Alcantar
Emily Barr
Max Blackwell
Olivia Boyd
Madison Brown
Derek Chitwood
Ellie Coleman
Aubrey Forsgren
Jamya Freeman Rhone
Kamilla Garcia
Cody Goodson
Claire Hassler
Rodrigo Hernandez
Katelyn Holycross
Eden Johnson 
Vincent LaTorre
Melati Lindhout
Tatum Loe
Cherish Malone
Evelyn Marin
Madelyn Maxey
Caroline McKinney
Andre Melendez
Raquel Menchaca
Adamaris Ramirez
Annastasia Roberson
Tylissa Robey
Fontaine Rossi
Kira Soukhawan
Donald Stephens
Stella Stites
Michelle Turner
Gabrielle Uriarte
Olivia Whitt
Kyas Williamson
Leah Young
60th Annual Celebration of Fort Smith Area High School Honors and Arkansas Scholars Graduates
The Fort Smith Regional Chamber and its members celebrated seniors graduating with an Honors Diploma and/or as an Arkansas Scholar with a celebratory picnic at each of the Fort Smith high schools.
Join us in celebrating these students on their academic success by watching the video tribute below!
UAFS Hosted a Grand Opening of the Center for Economic Development at the Bakery District
Against a technicolor backdrop of painted grain silos and bright blue skies, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson waxed poetic about the state of workforce development, economic investments, technology, and industry in the River Valley, and he noted the integral role the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Center for Economic Development will play in continuing that legacy for years to come.
“These are incredible times that we’re living in,” Hutchinson said, “And it really goes to the heart of what’s happening here in the River Valley. This center is the first of its kind in Arkansas, and I’m extraordinarily proud that this innovation is here in this community.”
The university hosted a grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting for the center, which will serve the River Valley as a destination for workforce and personal training, planning, and advising through the Center for Business and Professional Development, Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, and the Family Enterprise Center on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at the Bakery District.
“Let me tell you, Arkansas has its share of great entrepreneurs,” Hutchinson continued, “People who are willing to go out and invest capital, and to take risks because they want more in life. They want to create jobs; they want to be their own boss. That’s the spirit of America, and it’s reflected in the River Valley and this center that will be key in helping shape those entrepreneurs and providing them support.”
The governor noted that 64 percent of new jobs created across the country each year are created by small businesses, calling them the lifeblood of a community. “Fort Smith is growing; you can feel it in the air and in the leadership that’s here.”
Center for Business and Professional Development director Kendall Ross discussed seeing the vision of the space come to life. Together, the three centers hosted within the CED serve every level of employer and employee in the River Valley.
Dr. Terisa Riley, Chancellor, spoke about her first days in Fort Smith nearly three years ago.
Upcoming events at the Center for Economic Development include:

Wednesdays, June 1-22, 8 a.m. to noon
GRIT: Workplace Leadership Series ($359)
Center for Business & Professional Development at The Bakery District
Week 1 – Behavior Styles & Communication. Learn to identify personal strengths and weaknesses to lead more effectively. Includes a personality profile assessment.
Week 2 – Performance Management. Learn how to motivate others and how to use consequences to produce needed results.
Week 3 – Coaching. Learn coaching skills that will enhance your ability to be a partner for success and the five-step method to create loyalty-building coaching meetings.
Week 4 – Workplace Compliance. Learn how certain management behaviors create liability for the organization
Note: Attendance at the first session is mandatory to continue the series.
Tuesday, June 7, all day. 
Reboot Course for Veterans
ASBTDC at The Bakery District
This one day in-person course is offered off installation and provides participants with an overview of business fundamentals, while introducing techniques for evaluating the feasibility of business concepts. The course covers a range of entrepreneurial business concepts and provides resources for accessing startup capital, contracting opportunities, and more. Reboot is open all service members (including National Guard and Reserve) and their spouses.
Register at: Reboot for Veterans
Tuesday, June 14, 11:30 a.m to 1 p.m.
Navigating & Negotiating Personal Boundaries
Center for Business & Professional Development at The Bakery District
This event is hosted by the Western Arkansas Human Resource Association.
Thursday, June 16, 7:30-9 a.m. 
Family Enterprise Center Quarterly Breakfast
FEC at The Bakery District"
Stay Informed With News & Press Releases on FortSmithChamber.Org
Fort Smith Chamber Members can post unlimited news and press releases as a member benefit. To find out more email Dawn Turner at
Upcoming Chamber Connection Newsletters
June 30, 2022 - Membership
July 28, 2022 - Shop Local
August 25, 2022 - Education
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