Once a quarter, our staff selects a member of the Fort Smith community to be named a Hometown Hospitality Hero.
Fort Smith and our region benefit tremendously from conventions and events brought to our area. Attracting and retaining these happenings relies on the efforts of everyone in the hospitality industry. Often, Fort Smith attracts these conventions, events, and tournaments after individual local citizens decide they’d like their group’s event to be held in Fort Smith and take the initiative to bring a potential event to our Convention & Visitors Bureau’s attention. We work with these citizens to win the bid, attract attendees and help their idea come to life. The citizens that our staff feels have brought the most positive exposure and economic impact to our city we name Hometown Hospitality Heroes. We appreciate these people and all of those who help us bring more visitors to Fort Smith more than we can say!
Our newest hometown hospitality heroes are Fort Smith residents Mackey Yokem and Becky Neighbors for their work and assistance with the United Methodist Church State Convention held in June of 2012. Mackey Yokem, is the District Superintendent for the Northwest District Office of the United Methodist Church and Becky Neighbors is the District Administrator. As pastors, spouses and families came to Fort Smith, they helped to assemble convention packages, organize groups for community services and gave direction to convention attendees who were not familiar with Fort Smith.
And speaking of community services programs, the United Methodist Church State Convention built in a variety of community service projects in their convention format. All sorts of individuals needs were considered in the development of these projects, so even if an attendee had a mobility issue, there was a project that they could contribute to that would best suit their needs. Monday, June 11, 2012 was designated Mission Day. Some of the projects attendees participated in included: working at the Women’s Crisis Retail Shop on Lexington Avenue, assisting with local graffiti cleanup, Knitting for a Cause, Stop Hunger Now (at the Convention Center, teams constructed over 40,000 packaged meals to feed the hungry), the creation of Tornado Tubs (to aid in sorting and recovery of personal items following destructive storms) volunteering at the River Valley Food Bank, local nursing homes, Midland Heights UMC Clothes Closet, and the Imagine No Malaria Campaign (a denomination-wide effort to eradicate this preventable and treatable disease by 2015).
The United Methodist Conference had a significant economic Impact on our community. The event resulted in a direct economic impact of over $372,000. Industry experts state that the effect of a new dollar spent in the market “rolls over” three times, which would make the total economic impact of over 1.1 million dollars.
We hope to host the United Methodist Church State Convention in Fort Smith again in 2016.
The Fort Smith hospitality team thanks Mackey Yokem and Becky Neighbors for their hard work in being the Fort Smith connection to attendees of the United Methodist Church State Convention.
Contact the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau to see how you and your group can be recognized as a Fort Smith hometown hospitality hero. Call Sherry Scorby @ (479) 783-8888.