Attracting and retaining business from conventions, events and tourism to the Fort Smith region relies heavily on the efforts of both the community and members of the region’s tourism and hospitality industry. That is why, each year, the Fort Smith Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) takes the opportunity to extend our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to those who have played an important role in accomplishing this goal. Please join us in congratulating—and expressing gratitude to—the following 2018 Hometown Hospitality Heroes!
#1 MISS LAURA’S STARRS
Earlier this year, we honored a group of volunteers that are very near and dear to Fort Smith CVB. These volunteers, known as Miss Laura’s STARRS, have been with the CVB staff since the very beginning. Over the last 25 years, they have enabled Miss Laura’s Visitor Center to remain open 7 days per week to visitors, and they demonstrate an unfailing commitment to sharing Fort Smith’s story and making visitors feel truly welcomed. To read more about Miss Laura’s STARRS, be sure to check out the blog we recently posted about their legacy of hospitality.
#2 KEVIN SETTLE
During his tenure as a longtime resident of Fort Smith and At-Large Position 6 City Director, Kevin Settle, has made many contributions to the betterment of Fort Smith for both locals and tourists. He has worked on valuable projects related to residential and industrial growth, street and wet weather drainage improvement, job recruitment and retention, and park upgrades like a new aquatic facility and two new softball fields at Ben Geren Regional Park.
Most recently, Kevin Settle played an instrumental role in securing a piece of business that has not come to Fort Smith in 25 years. In 2018, we were happy to welcome the Arkansas Municipal League Winter Conference to Fort Smith. The 3-day event was held at the Fort Smith Convention Center and generated nearly 1,000 room nights for at local lodging establishments. Overall, the economic impact of this event is estimated to be $439,077 in spending at local restaurants, hotels, attractions and etcetera, which translates to roughly $11,500 in local tax revenue.
For 32 years, Sebastian County Sheriff, Bill Hollenbeck, has served the public in various law enforcement roles in Dallas and then in Sebastian County, Arkansas. Over the last 8 years, he has served as Sebastian County Sheriff and an important leader to the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association. Through this leadership, Sheriff Hollenbeck was able to help secure and host the association right here in Fort Smith.
In 2012, he would serve as the head of the association’s convention host committee, which resulted in bringing nearly 500 visitors to Fort Smith for the Arkansas Sheriff Association Conference. This event would bring an estimated economic impact of $400,000 to local businesses. In 2018, the conference will return to Fort Smith for a second time during the month of June.
In addition to protecting the citizens of our county and bringing valuable business to Fort Smith, Sherriff Hollenbeck has also shown a true commitment to establishing Crisis Stabilization Units throughout Arkansas. This effort, which serves to help meet the mental health needs of our State’s communities, is what Bill considers to be his greatest accomplishment. We appreciate all that Sheriff Hollenbeck has done for our county, state and even our local tourism and hospitality industry.
If you’ve attended any of the University of Arkansas Fort Smith’s (UAFS) Season of Entertainment events in the last 37 years, you just might have seen Stacey Jones peeking out from backstage or clapping from the audience during one of many standing ovations. In either case, it has been Stacey’s years of hard work and dedication to developing the Season of Entertainment that has kept audiences entertained in—and returning to—Fort Smith, Arkansas.
The Associate Vice Chancellor for campus and community events at UAFS, Stacey started Season of Entertainment in 1981 with the sole purpose in mind to create new programs for the university and bring national touring acts to the community. Well over 200 events have made a stop in Fort Smith due to his commitment to furthering the arts in our region. In fact, nearly 140,000 attendees have filled seats in Fort Smith, and at the ArcBest Performing Arts Center, to enjoy everything from touring Broadway shows and musicals to live concerts.
We look very much forward to learning about all that Stacey has in store for audiences during Season 38 of the program, and we applaud him for building such a valuable legacy of the arts right here in Fort Smith.
Fort Smith CVB truly values the contributions of all of our Hometown Hospitality Heroes and we look forward to honoring them during the 2018 Giving Recognition in Tourism (GRIT) Awards on April 12, 2018, at the Fort Smith Convention Center.