As seen in the February edition of the Chamber Voice
, the 2017 Annual Report offers a summary of each Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce division's accomplishments in 2017. An extended version of each division will be profiled on the Voice of Business
Blog. The next department summarized is Community Development.
Programs in the Community Development Division impact and enhance the quality of life in Rogers, Lowell and the region by improving lifestyles and amenities enjoyed by residents as well
as attracting newcomers and visitors, while developing leaders for the future.
Objective: Develop future community leaders.
Coordinate the Leadership Benton County
program with a goal of 40 participants completing the program. This program increases the number of trained and knowledgeable leaders in Benton County.
- The Leadership Benton County (LBC) program was postponed for rebranding and program reconstruction. Focus groups of former LBC graduates and Steering Committee members were assembled to advise on the reconstruction. The new applications were made available in May. The LBC Selection Committee announced in August 30 participants for LBC Class 15. The group is comprised of people with a very diverse background, with career fields ranging from bankers to architects, and vendors to attorneys. The purpose of the program is to increase the number of trained and knowledgeable leaders in Benton County.
In partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders (NWAEL), engage new or young business professionals in the region by inviting them to and hosting six professional development programs that focus on volunteerism, leadership skills development and board service.
- NWAEL held two (2) Board Service Certification seminars in 2017. The first was held on April 7 at the University of Arkansas Global Campus in Rogers with 22 participants. The second was held November 10 and in conjunction with a non-profit fair. The program focused on four (4) key areas of board service: commitments and expectations; legal and ethical considerations; finance and fundraising.
- The Community Enrichment Team organizes opportunities for members-at-large to work together in the community through volunteering for various service projects. Projects for the spring included: Main Street Rogers Barks & Brews and the 26th Annual Boys & Girls Club Spring Classic golf tournament. The team partnered with the Chamber to donate items to Hurricane Harvey victims, and hosted trail clean-up days.
- The Sustainability Team announced two new mini-series in 2017, Sustainable Solutions and Maintainable Living 101. These series are designed to inform and educate the young professional on best practices to live a sustainable life. The goal was to host one (1) event every month but to alternate between the two (2) series, reaching a different audience every time. The team held a total of eight (8) events. The team also worked with WorkMatters, LeaderCast, Roots Festival, Home Grown Music Festival and The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks to make all their events waste free.
- The Greenways and Trails Team helped produce the fourth annual Rogers Cycling Festival (RCF). This year’s festival had over 640 participants, which nearly doubled the number of participants from last year. The RCF is a 3-day event which draws everyone from competitive cyclists, casual riders, kids, and professional riders to spectators. This year the team also hosted the Arkansas State Championships. All proceeds from the event were donated to six local bike programs: Community Bike Program; Pedal it Forward; Ozark Off Road Cyclists; Boston Mountain Cyclists; Rogers Area Trail Supporters; and Girls Bike Program. This year, not only was money used to buy bikes, but also for donations to buy trackers for the bikes, so we are now able to track locations, and see which areas get the most usage to place bikes on those trails. The festival is set up to promote access to cycling and support the Community Bike Program. The Greenways and Trails Team also hosted a Trail Work Day on April 12. Ten team members cleaned up a mile-long section of the Razorback Greenway behind the Rogers Regional Sports Complex.
- The Political and Government Affairs Team hosted the 2017 Ready to Run program on July 31. Attendees learned the basics of running for office like fundraising, ethics, marketing, and press relations; they also learned what makes a good candidate from expert panelists. Mike Malone, with the Runway Group, kicked off the program with an opening address to over 125 participants. This is the most that have ever attended the program in history. The team is planning to create an online forum or brochure to inform voters for the upcoming elections.
- On August 11, NWAEL partnered with local Rotary Clubs to host the 2nd Annual NWA Young Professionals Summit. The theme of the all-day summit was “Ignite Your Passion: Personally, Professionally, and Philanthropically.” The goal for attendees was 275 and over 350 young professionals attended. Steve Clark, the entrepreneur behind Propak, Inc., and Rockfish, was the keynote speaker, and breakout sessions focusing on work-life balance, new innovative media and organizational tools, entrepreneurship, and much more were offered throughout the day.
Increase membership of Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders (NWAEL) by 100 members and become more regionally diverse by partnering with other community leadership development organizations to invite new members from across the region to join.
- Recent success in social events and the utilization of social events to gain exposure for NWAEL prompted the development of an ad hoc team: The FUN Team – Facilitating Unique Networking. NWAEL | Connect is an informal event that allows members and potential members the opportunity to connect with others, connect with the organization and connect with Northwest Arkansas in between the quarterly Member Orientation events. The first NWAEL | Connect was held in conjunction with the Member Orientation on June 9 at Sassafras Spring Vineyard. A total of 25 members attended this event. On August 26, the group hosted A Night at the Ballpark with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. A total of 30 members attended. These quarterly socials have proven to be a bigger hit than the monthly socials.
- NWAEL continues to nurture strategic partnerships with the Walmart and Sam's Club Professional Advisory Council (The Network), Crystal Bridges ArtInFusion and Tyson Young Professionals to enhance programming and grow the membership base. This year, NWAEL created two new partnerships between J.B Hunt Grow Resource Group and The Walton Arts Center.
- Current NWAEL membership is 905, an increase of 226 new members in 2017.
Staff and volunteers will coordinate leadership development activities for high school students within the Rogers Public Schools
as part of the Arvest First Leadership
program. Twenty high school
students will graduate from the program each year and become more active and knowledgeable about their community.
Objective: Support education.
- The 2016/17 Arvest First Leadership class was selected in August of 2016. Twenty (20) students were accepted and it kicked off with a reception and Orientation Session (parents and students) September 8, 2016 at NWACC. The Opening Retreat was held September 22 and 24, 2016 where students reviewed their DiSC profiles and enjoyed team building activities. Last October, students explored the non-profit and social services community, and last November the students were taken on a tour of three (3) Arkansas colleges to learn about the scholarship application process in a Higher Education session. Last December, students learned about owning and running their own business through an Entrepreneurship session at Collective Bias in Rogers. In January, students were given a tour of Mercy hospital and discussed healthcare and the benefits of local businesses. In February, the group traveled to Little Rock where they learned the works of state government and the unique experiences offered in the state’s capital city. A total of 19 high school students from the Rogers Public Schools graduated on April 12.
Facilitate the Community-based Scholarship Program
, which will award 15 percent of Rogers Public Schools
graduates with scholarships to further their education.
- In 2017, the scholarship program awarded 213 students in the amount of $394,725 with the support of 74 donors.
Host a Chamber Night
reception prior to the Rogers Public Schools Annual Report
with 75 Chamber members and members of the public in attendance. This event introduces members to elected officials and the idea of public service, as well as issues facing the school district.
- The Chamber Night city council receptions were held on February 20 and February 27 with very good attendance. A Chamber Night reception was held in conjunction with the Rogers Public Schools board meeting on October 17.
Award 987 students at Rogers High School, Rogers Heritage High School and Rogers New Technology High School with Academic Awards for maintaining a 3.5 GPA for two consecutive semesters.
- Ceremonies took place on April 6 (Rogers Heritage High School – 315 students), April 20 (Rogers High School – 517 students), and April 21 (Rogers New Technology High School – 155 students).
Honor four (4) outstanding educators in the Rogers Public Schools
with the distinct honor of "Educator of the Year" award at the Elementary, Middle and High School levels.
- In April, winners were awarded: Thomas Williams (Heritage High School); Tina Wallace (Kirksey Middle School); Kyle Scholler (Northside Elementary); and Jim Brown (Joe Mathias Elementary).
Host the annual Teacher Education Fair and Appreciation Breakfast
with 80 vendors and 1,000 educators taking part. The event rewards teachers for their dedication and hard work while providing a welcoming environment to start the new school year.
- The 2017 event was held on August 9 at Rogers High School in conjunction with the new Thank-a-Teacher Celebration presented by Sam’s Furniture. The event honored teachers who are making a big difference with children in our local community. A total of 100 prizes totaling $7,800 in value was given away. Two special prizes were also given to recipients nominated by the administrators and chosen by the prizes’ donors. Sam’s Furniture awarded April Teague a $10,000 Home Makeover, and Crain Automotive Group awarded Sarah Butler a one-year lease on a 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe. After the Thank-a-Teacher Celebration, teachers were released to attend the Teacher Education Fair and Appreciation Breakfast. They visited with 86 Chamber member businesses and organizations who took advantage of the opportunity to purchase booth space and present their products and services.