All economic development organizations in Clark County are now united into the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance.
The decision to unite was made by committees of the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County and the Arkadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce. Other groups included in the alliance are the Clark County Industrial Council and the Gurdon Chamber of Commerce. There is also a spot for other organizations in the future, said Kelli Lancaster, president of the Arkadelphia Chamber.
The new alliance will be governed by a board of directors consisting of the same five members of the EDCCC board. Paul Harvel, incoming president and CEO of the EDCCC, will serve as the president and CEO of the regional alliance.
The EDCCC agreed to the union Tuesday night and the Arkadelphia Chamber approved the measure in a meeting Wednesday at noon. “This is the way most areas are going now,” Lancaster said.
Under the new organizational chart, Lancaster will become the chairman of the Arkadelphia Chamber so that Harvel can be president and CEO. Harvel will serve as president and CEO of all the organizations, reporting to the individual boards of directors.
Blain Smith, executive director of the Arkadelphia Chamber, will report to Harvel, according to the chart. The organization chart does not specify what role the Arkadelphia City Board of Directors will play in the alliance. The city board must approve the appropriation of funding for the Arkadelphia Chamber each year.
Members of the city board will define their role in the structure during their planning retreat this fall, said city Manager Jimmy Bolt. “We want to participate,” he said. The board could simply change their contract of services to work with the alliance instead of the Chamber, as it is now. “We’ll be looking at those same services,” Bolt said.
The board will maintain their same level of control, Bolt said, because they must determine the appropriation of city funds. “They have the say over how the money is spent.”
He said he is pleased with the new organizational structure. “It’s all about all of us pulling together. That’s good news.”
Conner Eldridge, a member of both the Chamber board and the EDCCC, agreed. “The beauty of it is maximizing the dollar,” he said.
By forming the alliance, the organization will be eligible to compete for grant funds as well as public money, he said.
The organization of the alliance allows more flexibility for funding, Lancaster said. “There are some restrictions on public money.” She said that money donated by the cities and county can only be spent for specific purposes, but the formation of the alliance will allow money to flow through to other needed purposes. “It makes us more competitive” for attracting jobs and industries.
Chamber members also emphasized the need for everyone to get on the same page regarding this new alliance.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Blake Bell, a member of the Chamber board. He encouraged all Chamber members to go out and talk to others about the new plan and emphasize the positive action that can result. “It’s going to take all of us to do this.”
Also on Tuesday night, the EDCCC board approved the hiring of Shawnie Carrier as the economic development director. She was selected by Harvel for the position. Carrier is a former employee of the Cross County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development.
She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Arkansas State University and is a 2005 graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.
She will assume her duties with the EDCCC on June 30. Harvel will begin work as president and CEO on July 1.