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FROM TIM'S DESK

Tim Allen, Chamber President & CEO, joined the Chamber staff in November 2011. Prior to becoming Chamber President in 2013, Tim served as the Chief Operating Officer. He is responsible for economic development for the Fort Smith MSA, overseeing Chamber staff and functions, and working with community leaders to improve the regional quality of place.

Since 1887, the focus and mission of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce has been to grow the local economy. Through the full support of our members, we have accomplished the essential task of retaining business and recruiting new companies in a myriad of areas. Investing in the Chamber gives our community crucial advantages in economic development and a global voice emphasizing over and over again that Fort Smith is open for business.

The Chamber is pleased to be a leader and partner in the progressive development of our local economy. While we have experienced much success in the past year, our sights are set on preparing the workforce for the evolution in technology and the skills needed for success. It is an exciting time to live in Fort Smith and be a part of the progress that we see unfolding in every area of our community.

Advanced manufacturing, health care, and information technology are the strongest pillars of our economy. The Chamber is proud the local unemployment rate sits below four percent; however, there is more work to do. Fort Smith and the surrounding area has numerous global and nationally recognized businesses that drive our economy and we will continue to focus on deepening the stability and growth of the region with an magnified focus on championing workforce development.

In 2018, the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce received a $650,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation for the sole purpose of expanding workforce initiatives in the area. The Chamber has committed an additional $500,000 of its own funds to strengthen those initiatives. This will become part of the intensifying effort to build a regional infrastructure developing talent for a variety of career pathways and ensuring that our workforce has the skills necessary to retain and attract leading industries to our region.

In 2018, the Chamber, in partnership with local, state, and industry leaders, has generated over $150 million in capital investments comprised of 480 new jobs averaging over $19 an hour. The 10-year economic impact of the Chamber’s development projects is approximately $4.9 billion and we consistently lead the state in economic development announcements.

The Fort Smith region plays a very visible role in Arkansas when it comes to governmental affairs and economic development and we tackle tough issues as an advocate for businesses of all sizes. Decisions made by our legislators can have a direct impact on the livelihood of area entrepreneurs and business people and we strive to help protect the principles of free enterprise and ensure that businesses are being treated fairly at every level.

Once again, I extend my sincerest appreciation to our members for their support. If you would like to know more about joining the Chamber or if you are already a member and want to become more involved, please contact the office at (479)783-3111.