The Fort Smith, Arkansas region benefits tremendously from conventions and events that are brought to our area. Attracting and retaining this type of business relies heavily on the efforts of both the community and the growing tourism and hospitality industry. It is for this reason that we, at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, are happy to extend our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to a second first-quarter Hometown Hospitality Hero of 2015, Alie Bahsoon.
Bahsoon is the Purchasing Manager for the City of Fort Smith, Arkansas. He is also a board member of the Arkansas Chapter of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) and serves as the public relations, newsletter and website Chair. Alie is responsible for bringing this esteemed group of procurement officers and purchasers to Fort Smith, Arkansas for their annual conference on March 8-10, 2015. Because March is designated as National Procurement Month – which is celebrated all over the nation by public procurement professionals – the group holds their annual convention during this time, each year. Knowing WHEN the convention would be held was the easy part, but the effort and planning that went into figuring out HOW to secure this event for Fort Smith began nearly five years ago.
Bahsoon partnered with former Director of The Office of State Procurement, Jane T. Benton, to take a serious look at Fort Smith as a possible venue, but bringing the event to the area wouldn’t be a simple task. In the past, the annual event had
always been held in Little Rock or Hot Springs, Arkansas; the argument had been that these central locations would likely yield the highest level of attendance. However, Bahsoon begged to differ. And after spending the next several years encouraging his colleagues to consider Fort Smith, his persistence paid off.
In March of 2014, the process of bringing the Arkansas NIGP to Fort Smith became a reality, and a convention planning committee was formed with Bahsoon as one of its members. After a scheduled site visit to Arkansas’ second-largest city – in October of 2014 – they were convinced that their event needed to be held in Fort Smith. The convention planning group was pleasantly surprised by the size of Fort Smith and the overwhelming syzygy of history, modernity and nature that make the city so special. They were able to discover the city’s amenities and many hidden gems that boast some of the most unique shopping, dining, nightlife, fine arts, and historically significant landmarks.
Soon thereafter, Fort Smith was officially selected as the convention site and the downtown trolley was even reserved for transportation to the MovieLounge, which added another unique and exciting dimension to the convention. Purchasers and procurement officers, as well as potential vendors, were then notified. So, would the new location attract as many vendors and attendees?
Bahsoon was confident that the event would be just as successful in Fort Smith as it was in Little Rock or Hot Springs, and he was right. There were more than 55 vendors and nearly 100 purchasers and procurement officers in attendance. The convention provided many continued education opportunities to assist attendees obtain various professional designations. Topics included: “piggy-backing” purchases to reduce costs, taxes, fraud, and procurement trends. Workshops like, “Principled Centered Negotiations,” “Achieving MVP Status – Mind Exchange,” and, “Emotional Intelligence,” were among the most popular. Since attendance was high, Fort Smith benefited a great deal from the convention.
Being such a recent event, the overall economic impact of the annual conference is still being calculated, but it has been estimated at $40.5K so far. The group did not realize all that Fort Smith had to offer. “We wanted to make a favorable impression so that they will come back,” said Bahsoon. While reflecting on his efforts to bring the event to Fort Smith, he said that he was pleased to be able to showcase Fort Smith, Arkansas. In the same respect, we at the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau are just as pleased – more so, we are thankful – that Alie Bahsoon worked so hard to positively impact our community.
Would you like to nominate Alie in this year’s, “4th Annual Giving Recognition in Tourism (GRIT) Awards?” Click on the image below to nominate Patrick and other Hometown Heroes.