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.
Our newest Hometown Hospitality Hero is Mike Alsup, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Fort Smith. Mike has been instrumental in bringing the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association (APRA), and the Arkansas Therapeutic Recreation Society to Fort Smith for three of the last five years. These two groups have held their annual conferences in March of 2010, March of 2013 and again this year in March of 2014.
Mike has a great deal of responsibility just in managing the 25 parks that encompass 273 acres in Fort Smith. Mike chose to join the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association in 2003, upon his arrival to Fort Smith as Director of Parks and Recreation for the City. He was a member of the group in Tennessee and has found his participation an invaluable resource for keeping current on parks resources for both materials and solutions to professional issues. The continued networking opportunities proved beneficial and Mike found the conferences were good in terms of both their educational classes and relationships with vendors who offer everything from architectural and engineering services to chemicals, mowing equipment, playground development and more!
In an effort to become more involved, Mike joined the Board of the ARPA group in 2007, became President Elect in 2008 and served as President of the Association the following year. As Past President, it was Mike’s responsibility to host the conference in 2010 and he says that it was a very positive experience for the groups.
Mike’s observations of their 2010 experience here were: 1) The convention facilities are very good 2) The pricing for meeting space as well as lodging were both very affordable and competitive 3) Fort Smith provides a central location for the majority of their group members since the majority of their group members are from both northwest Arkansas and the Little Rock area 4) Since the group likes to hire their own caterer they appreciate the flexibility that the Fort Smith Convention Center offers in allowing them to select from their extensive list of approved caterers.
Because of their positive experience here in Fort Smith, the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association and Arkansas Therapeutic Recreation Society chose to again stage both their 2013 and 2014 conferences here in Fort Smith.
The relationships that Mike has established over the years with these groups resulted in the mutual benefit of the groups enjoying a positive conference experience and significant economic gain for the City of Fort Smith. Each of the three conferences had about 200 + people in attendance. This resulted in about 321 combined room nights over the course of the three conventions.
The direct economic impact of the THREE conventions is $48,150. The total economic impact is $144,450.
Kitty Lane, Executive Director of the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association tell us: “Mike Alsup, ARPA Past President was very instrumental in the decision to bring the ARPA conference to Fort Smith for three years. Mike helped us negotiate pricing with the convention center to make the events affordable. Without the support of the Parks and Recreation Staff we would not have been able to make the events a success. Mike has been a tremendous support to our organization and we look forward to a continued partnership with the City of Fort Smith.”
The City of Fort Smith thanks Mike Alsup for his hard work in initiating and supporting the local efforts to bring the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association to Fort Smith in 2010, 2013 and 2014! Continuing in the tradition, Jennifer Oberste now serves as Recreation Superintendent has joined the ARPA board for 2013/2014. Our thanks to Mike’s staff who also supported and facilitated these events!